Darjeeling impasse: Centre ready for talks, Mamata isn’t, says Bengal BJP president | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Darjeeling impasse: Centre ready for talks, Mamata isn’t, says Bengal BJP president

Mamata Banerjee is not interested in tripartite talks on the Darjeeling crisis and wants to brand hill party leaders as terrorists, Dilip Ghosh alleged on Wednesday even as he was shown black flag by hill people.

kolkata Updated: Oct 04, 2017 20:33 IST
HT Correspondent
Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh (left) with the party’s national president Amit Shah.
Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh (left) with the party’s national president Amit Shah. (HT File Photo)

Had chief minister Mamata Banerjee agreed to sit for talks, the NDA Government would have ended the impasse in Darjeeling hills long ago, Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh said in Kalimpong on Wednesday as he set out on a three-day tour of the north Bengal hills.

“The chief minister is keen to project the agitators as anti-nationals. She slapped cases under anti-terror law after a couple of explosions. Bombs go off every day in every district of Bengal but anti-terror law is not applied anywhere,” said Ghosh. Interestingly, he did not name the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and its chief Bimal Gurung who, along with top leaders of the party, have been booked under sections of the anti-terror law, UA(P)A.

Read: GJM calls off 104-day Darjeeling strike after Rajnath calls meet on Gorkhaland

With the Bengal government backing expelled GJM leaders Benoy Tamang and Anit Thapa and putting them in charge of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), it became apparent that rival factions in Darjeeling’s largest political force are being supported by the Trinamool and BJP. “Dilip Ghosh is here to offer support to the trouble makers,” quipped Trinamool district president and tourism minister Gautam Deb.

A procession by teachers demanding normalcy in schools in Darjeeling hills. (HT File Photo)

Black flags and “go back” slogans from workers of GJM and other parties demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland greeted Ghosh and other BJP leaders when they reached New Jalpaiguri station on Wednesday morning and proceeded to the hills. The absence of S S Ahluwalia, the BJP Lok Sabha MP from Darjeeling, added to the grievance of the people. “Why have these shameless people come here now? They did nothing when we cried for help,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, president of the Jan Andolan Party.

Read: Gorkhaland crisis: Benoy Tamang toes Mamata Banerjee’s line as GTA chief; Bimal Gurung hits back

Ghosh brushed aside allegations that the Centre did nothing to address the demand for statehood. “It was the Atal Behari Vajpayee government that brought the Couvery water dispute to an end. The Narendra Modi government solved the problem posed by enclaves along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The Centre wants to solve the Darjeeling crisis. But it can’t be done unless the state government takes part in the process,” Ghosh said in Kalimpong later in the day.

A police jeep set on fire by agitators in Darjeeling during the bandh in June this year. (HT File Photo)

Ghosh is the first BJP leader to visit the north Bengal hills after a record 104-day-long bandh organised by 17 hill parties and organisations was called off on September 26. The shutdown was lifted by GJM after Union home minister Rajnath Singh issued a statement last week saying he had instructed the Union home secretary to hold talks on “all related issues” on the Darjeeling impasse. In the statement, Singh urged Gurung to restore normalcy.

Read: Darjeeling settles down post GJM bandh, but Bengal’s hunt for Gurung could disturb peace

“I have asked the home secretary to convene an official level meeting in the home ministry within a fortnight to discuss all related issues,” said the statement on September 27 paving the way for tripartite talks on the vexed question.

Since Rajnath Singh did not mention the statehood issue in his statement, Ghosh, too, kept silent on the demand for Gorkhaland. “The Centre is ready to hold talks on all issues and the state has to take part in it as well. But Mamata Banerjee has refused to participate in any discussion,” he claimed.

Read: Mamata criticises Rajnath’s meet with GJM leader, BJP hits back

During his tour Ghosh will be meeting BJP workers in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and other places. He may visit Sikkim as well. Asked whether he would meet Bimal Gurung, the BJP state president said, “He is in hiding. I don’t know whether he can meet anyone. I have not come to meet anyone in particular. But if someone wants to talk to me, I am ready.”