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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

GJM does a balancing act on day one of renewed Gorkhaland agitation

Amitava Banerjee, Hindustan Times  Darjeeling, January 21, 2013
First Published: 15:43 IST(21/1/2013) | Last Updated: 15:45 IST(21/1/2013)

While playing cards close to their chest the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) did a perfect balancing act on Sunday- the first day of the revival of the Gorkhaland agitation on the wake of the Telangana development. Supremo Bimal Gurung preferred to stay away from Sunday’s rally in Darjeeling town.

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No agitation programme was announced but the GJM did not fail to give a clarion call asking the public to ready themselves for a prolonged agitation for Gorkhaland.Gurung will be addressing a rally in Darjeeling on February 12 from where the future agitation programmes will be announced.

The warm-up public meeting for Gorkhaland saw the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) hanging heavy over it. “We had clearly mentioned in the tripartite agreement for the GTA that we are not dropping the demand of Gorkhaland. To the contrary the name Gorkhaland has been given legitimacy through the GTA as both the State and Centre has accepted it. There is nothing wrong in running the GTA. It is a stepping stone to Gorkhaland and is a temporary arrangement for development activities. That is why we did not press for constitutional safeguard for the GTA” stated Roshan Giri, General Secretary, GJM.

Giri alleged that the Government was meeting out a step motherly treatment towards Gorkhaland. “While the Government is serious about Telangana they are sidelining the more than 100 year old demand of Gorkhaland. If Telangana is formed then Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars will witness a volcanic eruption. If the Government tries to suppress it by force then the public has to rise up. We have to remain prepared for a prolonged agitation” stated Giri.

“The Government should realize the strategic location of Darjeeling surrounded by 4 international borders before carving out Telangana and side lining Gorkhaland. Their decision should be impartial and not prompted by politics of numbers (as Telangana has a large number of MPs.) Rather they should honour the aspiration of the people of this region by forming the separate state of Gorkhaland. If Arunachal Pradesh can be created as a Border state then why not Gorkhaland with 4 international borders?” questioned Giri.

The same platform saw Harka Bahadur Chettri, the GJM MLA from Kalimpong explaining the “reality.” He made it clear that politics cannot be a ruled by emotions alone. “The proposed Telangana is 50 times the size of proposed Gorkhaland having 37 times more population than Gorkhaland. While they have 17 MPs we have 1. They have 119 MLAs and we have 4. Despite all these odds we are continuing with the agitation.” stated Chettri.

“We have no connection with Telangana. Our agitation for Gorkhaland will continue irrespective of whatever is the Telangana outcome. If Telangana is not created then will we also halt the Gorkhaland demand? Ours is a separate issue altogether with our own unique problems and our own strategy” stated Chettri.

When Giri was questioned by the media why no agitation programmes were announced in Sunday's rally, the GJM General Secretary stated “We are keeping a close watch on Telangana developments. Our agitation will be based on the outcome. Sunday's rally was to ask the public to remain prepared for an agitation. Based on the Telangana developments we will declare our agitation.” When questioned as to whether the GJM will resign from the post of GTA members, Giri stated that it will all depend on the Telangana outcome.

However from Harka Bahdur Chettri’s statement it was clear that the onus lay on party Chief Bimal Gurung. “I strongly feel that if Telangana is created, Bimal Gurung will ask his 4 MLAs to resign. We will be glad to. We will also ask our MP Jaswant Singh to resign. Along with this I feel Gurung will ask the GTA members to resign too” stated the Kalimpong MLA.

Political observers feel that with mounting pressure from the Hill opposition parties, the GJM leadership has been compelled to come out on the streets in order to prevent a political vacuum from being created on the wake of the Telangana development. The GJM has to prevent other political parties from taking a bite from the Gorkhaland cake taking advantage of the present political situation.

“There are Government agents trying to start a new party. You all should remain alert and not fall into their trap. They will betray you” warned Binay Tamang, Assistant Secretary, GJM. Other speakers dubbing the forthcoming agitation as the final battle for Gorkhaland stated that they were ready to sacrifice their lives for Gorkhaland and if compelled were ready to take up other forms of agitations (read violent agitation.)

On Monday the GJM dispatched fax messages to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh; Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde; Leaders of the Opposition Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha; UPA Chairperson and BJP President demanding that Gorkhaland be considered along with Telangana.


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