The relation between the state government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) seemed to be approaching a point of no return as the GJM chief Bimal Gurung on Saturday demanded chief minister Mamata Banerjee apologise in public in Darjeeling for hurting the sentiment of the residents even as the Hills observed a total 12-hour-long bandh on Saturday.
Completely ignoring Goutam Deb, the North Bengal development minister, who reached Darjeeling on Friday evening as the chief minister’s emissary for talks with the GJM, Bimal Gurung on Saturday said, “The relation between the state government and the GJM is over and it cannot be mended easily.
The Chief Minister has insulted and hurt Hills people and she should seek public apology from Darjeeling,” Gurung told the media on Saturday afternoon.
Ever since the prospect of announcement of statehood for Telengana became bright, GJM leaders became restive and began demonstrating in New Delhi for granting a separate state of Gorkhaland.
But the situation almost irreversibly took a turn for the worse when, on January 29 during the inauguration of Darjeeling leg of North Bengal festival the chief minister asserted that Bengal would remain undivided and the Hills were an essential part of the state.
GJM supporters present in the audience immediately sprung to their feet and began sloganeering and displayed posters demanding Gorkhaland.
A visibly angry Mamata remarked in her speech, “I am rough and tough,” and ‘you cannot raise such slogan in a government programme.’
The next day Bimal Gurung retorted by saying Gorkhaland was their sole objective and asked the people to get ready for the state government bullets who would be keen to quell their agitation.
Later the state government’s decision to set up Lepcha Development Council (LDC) inspite of GJM’s opposition angered Gurung. The chief minister later got the state Cabinet to approve of the development council.
The Lepcha Development Council under the backward class welfare department has already been transferred to the Gorkhaland Territorial Agreement and is construed by the GJM as meddling into their turf.
The 12-hour-long GJM strike in the hills is to protest against the state government’s decision to set up the LDC.
On Friday evening in a move trying to minimize damage, Mamata Banerjee rushed Goutam Deb the North Bengal development minister to Darjeeling to hold meeting with the GJM leaders.
But, till Saturday evening the GJM had totally ignored Deb who was putting up at government guesthouse at Richmond Hills.
Today, when asked whether he would meet Deb, Bimal Gurung hit back and said, “There is no point in meting him as the relation with the government has broken down.”
Indicating that there is no point of return, Gurung opined that time has come to show black flags to the state ministers when they visit Darjeeling.
“We have already accorded enough respect by welcoming them with garlands and time has come to express our protest by showing black flags,” he said.
Till recently, the chief minister and her ministers used to boast that they frequently visit the hills to be among the Hills people. On Saturday, a section of GJM supporters were preparing to show black flags to Goutam Deb.