Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) President Bimal Gurung’s repeated threats of resurrecting the Gorkhaland agitation has managed to reap the desired effect- a meeting has been slated between Gurung and the chief minister in Siliguri on February 11. Gurung and the GJM have been repeatedly threatening an agitation if the government fails to implement the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration within March 27.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed by the State, Centre and the GJM on July 18, 2011, for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA,) an autonomous administrative body for Darjeeling to replace the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.
This MOA paved way for the passing of a GTA Bill by the West Bengal Assembly. The Bill is at present under inter-ministerial consultation. Following a green signal from the ministries, the Bill will require an assent from the President of India
Recently the GJM has beefed up threats, stating that if the government fails to implement the GTA within 27 March, they would torch copies of GTA MOA on April 17, thereby heralding in the Gorkhaland agitation.
Sources state that the threat resulted in North Bengal Development Minister Gautam Deb scurrying to pacify the GJM. He had assured the GJM of a meeting with the chief minister.
“We have a meeting with the chief minister in Siliguri on Saturday. Even GJM President Bimal Gurung will be present in the meeting” stated Roshan Giri, GJM General Secretary. The GJM team is likely to comprise of Gurung, Giri and the three Hill GJM Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs.)
“Talks with the CM will revolve around the GTA only” declared Giri. However political observers feel that Gurung will not lose this opportunity to apprise the CM of the growing opposition threat to his party with their Gorkhaland exercises.
While the Gorkhaland Task Force ( GTF-a conglomeration of political and apolitical outfits including the All India Gorkha League, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist and the Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh) is on a tour of North East States garnering support for Gorkhaland; in the home turf rebel Gorkha leader Chattrey Subba has been constantly raising the ante against the GTA and demanding separation from Bengal.
Meanwhile Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) led by Subash Ghising has threatened to regroup and resurrect the demand for the inclusion of the Darjeeling Hills in the 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. A Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the Union Government, State and the GNLF on 6th December, 2005 for the inclusion of Darjeeling in the 6th Schedule.
However with the neo agitation launched by Gurung and the GJM in 2007, the Government shelved the 6th Schedule exercise. However the sudden political exercise of the opposition camps could definitely put both the GJM and the State Government in a tight spot.
Gurung seizing the opportunity of an existing political vacuum in 2007 in the Darjeeling Hills, caused by the delay in the implementation of the 6th Schedule, had managed to float the GJM and oust Ghising led GNLF from the Hills. Gurung and the GJM would not like a repeat of history that could well be caused by the delay in the implementation of the GTA.
It would be an equal threat for the Trinamool Congress led State Government, a major part of their claim to fame and power being the tactful handling of the Darjeeling impasse (making the GJM agree to the GTA.) The Hill opposition along with their demand for political separation from Bengal could definitely emerge as a bitter pill for the State Government.
Under such conditions the Government would definitely try to appease Gurung with an early GTA, thereby keeping Gorkhaland at bay, feel political pundits.