Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday laid down a 72-hour deadline for the Darjeeling shutdown to end, prompting the strike’s key sponsor Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s president to issue a counter-threat of escalating the agitation.
Matching the CM’s stern rhetoric, GJM president Bimal Gurung ruled out a climbdown on the Gorkhaland statehood movement, saying the “people of Darjeeling would observe a janata curfew” if Banerjee did not withdraw her warning. "If there is any bloodshed, she will be responsible," he said.
“If the bandh is not lifted within 72 hours, the government would clip the wings of any leader, no matter how tall his stature. We have tolerated the bandh for eight days. Enough is enough," Banerjee told mediapersons earlier in the day, without naming Gurung.
“We will impose a janata curfew so that not a soul emerges on the streets. She has to immediately withdraw her statement because she indulges in politics of suppression that will not be tolerated anymore,” said Gurung a few hours later.
With GJM lobbying hard with central leaders on the issue, Banerjee also issued a word of caution for the Union government. "The centre is pursuing a divide and rule policy. I would request them not to try to break Bengal. This is sick mentality," she said.
Gurung, on the other hand, ruled out having parleys with the state government, saying: “I will not talk to the state. I will talk to the centre only.” A team of GJM leaders have met Union ministers and BJP leaders and Gurung is hopeful of getting an audience with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
"The chairman of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has resigned. We have accepted the resignation. Now his replacement should come forward," the CM said.
“I know the (GTA) Act. We have a month’s time. We will take the right decision at the right time,” Gurung retorted.
Mamata emphasised that she would go to Darjeeling again if need be, but would not bow to the demand of a separate Gorkhaland.