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New government no breather for Gorkhaland

Though the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has returned a clear mandate riding piggyback on the “Gorkhaland” demand, political observers are skeptic regarding the fate of the separate state demand itself. The Left Front’s exit and Mamata Banerjee's entry would rather pose a more difficult challenge for the demand.

india Updated: May 13, 2011 23:30 IST
Amitava Banerjee

Though the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has returned a clear mandate riding piggyback on the “Gorkhaland” demand, political observers are skeptic regarding the fate of the separate state demand itself. The Left Front’s exit and Mamata Banerjee's entry would rather pose a more difficult challenge for the demand.

Banerjee time and again has reiterated that under no condition would she allow the division of the State “Bongo Bhongo hotey debo na.” However she has also assured to resolve the ongoing Gorkha impasse within 100 days of coming to power. Observers feel that Banerjee’s panacea for the Hills would rather be a powerful autonomy.

The Trinamool President had also asked the Union Government to “go slow” on the GJM’s demand for an interim administrative setup for the Darjeeling Hills just before the State elections. Political observers believe that Banerjee would herself want to offer a better package to the Hills.

The TMC in no way would want to antagonize the rest of West Bengal by making any pro-Gorkhaland statements. Banerjee already labeled a GJM sympathizer by the Left Front would definitely tread more cautiously in future- the Left keeping a close watch from the opposition bench.

Turning his face away from this reality, a smug GJM President Bimal Gurung, today stated “Change was inevitable in Bengal along with our victory. We are optimistic that the new Government will open up a dialogue regarding our demand and consider it sympathetically.”

Earlier Harka Bahadur Chettri, GJM Spokesperson and GJM Kalimpong candidate had stated that as the Morcha has extended unconditional support to the TMC-Congress coalition in the plains (in the Jalpaiguri district and the the plains of the Darjeeling district) the GJM would like to be a part of the Government.

“We will ask the TMC-Congress support for the Gorkhaland demand. If they fail to support, our MLAs will resign forcing bypolls. We will win and again resign. This will be an endless process” stated Chettri. The GJM has landed the Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Kalchini seat (Jalpaiguri District) in its kitty.

However Observers opine that it will definitely not be a smooth ride for the GJM despite the thumping victory owing to the Gorkha National Liberation Front making a steady comeback towing the 6th Schedule demand.

A politically ripened GNLF President Subash Ghising after his return back to the Hills after a gap of more than 3 years has immediately made a public announcement that it would be easier for the Government to adhere to his 6th Schedule demand which in no way result in the “Bongo-bhongo” (bifurcation of the State.) “We will support whichever coalition comes to power in the State” Ghising had declared before the elections.

He has requested the State and Centre to honour the Memorandum of Settlement signed by him, the Central Government and the State on the December 6, 2005 agreeing to the 6th Schedule status for the Hills. A Bill to this effect was tabled in the Parliament and was also recommended by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs after making suitable changes.

“Time and again we have stated that this Assembly election does not have any implications for us. We had no presence in the Hills for more than three years. After returning back on April 6, 2011, there was hardly any time to reorganize and expand the party. People even doubted whether we would be able to file nominations. Despite all these odds we have emerged second in the fray. The GNLF seed has been sown and by the end of this year the Hills will turn green (GNLF colour.)” stated Prakash Dahal, GNLF candidate from Kalimpong.

Gurung has however asked Ghising to leave the Hills. Not naming Ghising, he stated “If you stay the public will face problems. There are chances of bloodshed even. It is better you leave.”

Incidentally Ghising on April 8, 2011 had returned back to the Hills after having been compelled to leave Darjeeling along with the GNLF supporters on July 27, 2008, following angry GJM supporters going on arson and vandalizing spree prompted by the death of a GJM supporter Pramila Sharma.

“Mamata Banerjee is anti-Gorkhaland. The GJM had appealed for votes keeping the Gorkhaland demand in the forefront. If they claim that the mandate they have received in this election is for Gorkhaland then by hook or crook they have to fulfill their promise. According to them people voted for Gorkhaland and not for them” stated Bharati Tamang, President, All India Gorkha League, the oldest Gorkha political outfit in India.