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Amitava Banerjee, Hindustan Times
Darjeeling , November 22, 2011
A day after UP chief minister Mayawati’s Bill to divide UP into 4 states was passed through a voice vote in the UP Assembly; similar tones resonated in the Darjeeling Hills with the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha (GJYM- youth wing of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha) deciding to walk the Gorkhaland path henceforth.

Since October 2007, the Darjeeling Hills have been a witness to a separate state agitation led by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM.) Several rounds of tripartite talks between the Centre, State and the GJM coupled with Mamata Banerjee coming to power, finally paved way for the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on July 18, 2011, between the Centre, State and the GJM for the formation of an autonomous body named the GTA.

The MOA led to the passing of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Bill 2011 in the West Bengal Assembly on September 2, 2011.

“We have been continuing with the Gorkhaland agitation. Time and again we have met with the GJM President Bimal Gurung asking him to continue on the agitation path. The GJM signed the GTA agreement on the request of the Government but has not dropped the demand of Gorkhaland. The GJM was floated with a single point agenda of Gorkhaland” explained Priyavardhan Rai, GJYM, General Secretary in a press conference in Darjeeling on Tuesday.

Incidentally the MOA clearly states that the GJM while not dropping their demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, has agreed to the setting up of an autonomous body, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

According to Rai, the GJYM held a hour long meeting with the GJM Supremo Gurung in Darjeeling apprising him of their stand to rejuvenate the agitation. “We welcome Mayawati’s Bill to divide UP into 4 separate States. We too demand that Gorkhaland be carved out of West Bengal immediately” retorted Rai.

The GJYM however is not willing to divulge their discussions with Gurung or their future plans immediately. “We will make our future course of action public in a meeting in Mungpoo on December 18. Thousands from all over the Hills will attend this meet. Meanwhile we appeal to all the frontal organisations of the GJM and the public to remain prepared for a renewed Gorkhaland agitation. We expect our agitation to be under the able leadership of Bimal Gurung” added Rai.

In the next two days the GJYM will be sending fax messages to the president of India, prime minister, union home minister, West Bengal chief minister and a letter to GJM president Bimal Gurung in demand of Gorkhaland.

“In the fax messages we will write for the immediate formation of Gorkhaland- a demand that the Union Government should give top priority as it is more than a century old. The Government cannot ignore this demand any longer” retorted Rai.

Bimal Gurung too in a press conference in Darjeeling on Monday had claimed that he was under pressure from the youth wing to revert to the agitation path for the ultimate goal of Gorkhaland.

Political observers believe that it is a tactic adopted by the GJM to mount pressure on the government for the speedy implementation of the GTA and also to prove their sincerity towards “Gorkhaland” - an issue that occupies an important place in Hill sentiments; on the wake of the sudden Uttar Pradesh development.