Anxious to avoid opening a new front after Nandigram, the CPI(M) on Monday night reached out to arch foe BJP for help on another sensitive issue: Gorkha autonomy.
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee went calling on Leader of Opposition LK Advani, seeking BJP support for two Constitution amendment bills meant to upgrade the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council into an autonomous body.
A bill to amend the constitution cannot be passed without the support of two-thirds of members present and voting in parliament. The backing of the BJP is, therefore, crucial.
Buddha spent 30 minutes at Advani’s home trying to mollify the veteran BJP leader whose party — upset with the Centre’s attempt to bring the bills without adequate notice and consultation — had turned down Home Minister Shivraj Patil’s request for support.
Buddha told Advani his government wanted the law fast because the Darjeeling hills had begun to see a violent revival of the demand for a separate Gorkha state.
Advani told Buddha the BJP had not been given a chance to study the bill — the Centre had not been taking the Opposition into confidence on legislative business.
Buddha, who was in Delhi for the CPI(M) politburo meeting, sought the appointment after Patil and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee told him the BJP’s opposition would stall the bill. The BJP had decided to oppose the law at a meeting chaired by Advani.