In arranging to have the Gorkhaland deal signed, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has achieved a major personal triumph, her first since she assumed office in May.
And this is despite the ongoing debate whether the tripartite agreement on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) will be able to solve the three-decade-old issues of neglect and empowerment in the hills.
First, Banerjee has been able to tame an emotionally charged agitation, often violent, and bring the warring leaders back to the discussion table, making them agree to most of the terms of the government.
Second, the agreement will make the Gorkhas shun the demand for a separate state at least until they can prove a point to the hill people with the new financial devolution.
Banerjee has also maintained a steady streak by declaring that there is no question of granting a separate state of Gorkhaland. While she was cheered by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) supporters as she stood on the podium on Monday to address the gathering, she was blunt when she categorically declared there was no question of dividing West Bengal.
Even during the election campaign, she stuck to the stand that at no cost could a separate state be given. That conveyed a credible message to the Centre as well as the rest of Bengal.
She can also claim credit for bringing home minister P Chidambaram to the signing venue, sending an equally strong message to GJM head Bimal Gurung that she could very well prevail upon the Congress leadership if need be. If she has successfully dealt with the hill crisis, at least for now, she will have her hands full when the GTA assumes office. Primarily, the office bearers would want to extract maximum mileage from the state in terms of financial grants and, more importantly, they would press the state and Centre to include the Dooars and Terai under the ambit of the GTA. That will create another round of tension in the region because different ethnic groups and tribals are opposed to that.
Finally, more than anything else the common people of the hills will thank her for putting an end to the days of strikes.