As Mamata Banerjee’s “Switzerland” (development) scored over Bimal Gurung’s “Gorkhaland,” (separate state) with both the state government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) lauding it, the hill opposition parties cried betrayal and vowed to continue with the agitation for “Gorkhaland.”
A triumphant chief minister Mamata Banerjee, addressing media persons in Kolkata stated “Our brothers and sisters in Darjeeling have been agitating. Now the crisis has ended. We will work together to make the Hills into Switzerland.”
A deal was signed on Tuesday between the state government and the GJM, with both working out the modalities for a new administrative setup for the Darjeeling Hills in North Bengal.
Even the GJM, spearheading a separate state agitation since 2007, lauded the efforts of the chief minister stating “The present state government has shown immense political will to ensure peace and development. We will extend our full cooperation to the new government”
However the hill opposition parties, raising the ante, have cried “betrayal.” “What our leader Madan Tamang had stated three years ago has now been vindicated. He had stated that Bimal Gurung is a counter leader propped by the Government to strangle the demand for Gorkhaland.
"The GJM murdered Madan Tamang and the Government compelled the GJM to compromise on Gorkhaland using the CBI, at present investigating the Madan Tamang murder case in which key GJM leaders have been implicated” alleged Pratap Khati, All India Gorkha League (AIGL) leader.
The AIGL is the oldest political outfit of the Gorkhas in the country.
“Let Mamata Banerjee understand that the Gorkha issue does not stand resolved. We want separation from Bengal. Just by buying off Bimal Gurung and the GJM, the demand for Gorkhaland, which is the aspiration of all the Gorkhas residing in the country cannot be strangled” retorted Khati.
“The Gorkhas have been betrayed once again. It is a rerun of Subash Ghising’s Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) deal. We have always been saying that the GJM are not sincere. Their main objective has been the DGHC and that is what they have proved. The new administrative setup does not have a constitutional guarantee also. However both the Government and the GJM should realize that the people in the Hills gave the mandate for Gorkhaland in this Assembly election. Gurung and the GJM cannot rule for ever. The true voice for Gorkhaland will re emerge” warned Govind Chettri, spokesperson, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM.)
Asok Bhattacharjee, CPIM leader for North Bengal demanded that CM Mamata Banerjee should spell out in details as to what she means by “Gorkha impasse resolved.”
“When we were in the Government we had proposed a powerful autonomy for the Hills. The Nepali speaking populace had gone against us dubbing us anti-Gorkhaland then. The same arrangement is now being dished out to them. However we do not see a permanent solution as there will always be dissident groups trying to spark a fresh agitation. Thus we had demanded that all Hill parties be taken into confidence while working out an arrangement for the Hills.”
Interestingly, the Subash Ghising led Gorkha National Liberation Front had led a 28 month violent agitation for a separate state in the 1980s which finally paved way for the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) in 1988.
Bimal Gurung, a dissident GNLF leader broke away from the party folds in 2007 floating the GJM. The GJM finally ousted the GNLF and Ghising, launching a new agitation for Gorkhaland.