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HindustanTimes Thu,17 Apr 2014

CM softens tone against Gurung

HT Correspondent  Bagdogra, March 13, 2013
First Published: 10:46 IST(13/3/2013) | Last Updated: 10:50 IST(13/3/2013)

After antagonising Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supporters by ruling out a separate Gorkhaland, chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday sent a clear message that her relations with GJM has not yet reached a point of no return.

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Beginning her three-day-long North Bengal tour, Mamata tried her best to paint a rosy picture of Darjeeling, while remaining silent on the GJM. Though the Gorkha outfit is flirting with the Congress, Mamata said a political party is free to support whoever they want.

Talking to the media, Mamata without naming the GJM said, "Politically they may or may not support me. It is their absolute prerogative which party they support and I do not want to say anything on this." She added, "I want Darjeeling to prosper, be happy and be in peace."

Refusing to take more questions on Darjeeling, she said tourists are thronging to Darjeeling. She added, "No one would take it positively if there is talk of a separatist movement."

The relation between the GJM and the state reached a point of no return after the chief minister scolded the hills party supporters who raised pro-Gorkhaland slogans during a government programme in Darjeeling on January 29. The relation further deteriorated after the state government decided to form the Lepcha Development Council against the GJM's wishes.

A furious Bimal Gurung refused to meet the chief minister's emissary Goutam Deb and GJM supporters attacked the North Bengal development minister's car in Kalimpong.

The GJM is cosying up to the Congress after recent meetings of the team led by Bimal Gurung with President Pranab Mukherjee, Union home and finance ministers in the capital. The meetings were seen as an attempt by the Congress to form an alliance with the GJM in the ensuing panchayat polls in the Dooars. The Congress also hopes to win the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in 2014 general election with the support of the GJM. The state government has already sent two companies of CRPF and three platoons of RAF and IRB to the Hills.

On Wednesday, Mamata will address a public meeting in the Dooars during which she is scheduled to distribute land pattas to landless. Her Dooars visit just before the panchayat election is aimed to woo adivasis.

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