People of north Bengal will decide if they want a separate state: Pramanik
Union minister Nisith Pramanik on Tuesday said people of north Bengal have faced apathy for decades and they will decide whether they want a separate state. “There is no such thing as legitimate or illegitimate about this demand. It also does not matter what I think about it. A lot of leaders may have personal opinions,” Pramanik said at an event to pay homage to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers allegedly killed in post-poll violence in West Bengal this year. “I will give my opinion later. I am with the people of north Bengal. Let them decide what they want.”
Pramanik’s comments came two months after BJP Parliament Member John Barla demanded a separate state or Union Territory comprising districts of north Bengal and triggered an angry reaction from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC). Both Barla and Pramanik are Lok Sabha members form north Bengal.
In the March-April assembly polls, the BJP bagged 30 of the 54 seats in north Bengal districts as the TMC swept back to power in the state. In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP bagged 18 of the state’s 42 seats. The BJP won seven of the eight seats in the region in 2019.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday alleged the BJP has hatched a conspiracy to divide Bengal and said she will not allow anyone to split the state. Banerjee on Monday announced a series of development projects for the region.
The Bengal government has allocated ₹776 crores in the state budget for development of north Bengal, said education minister Bratya Basu. “BJP leaders are making contradictory statements. Barla raised the demand for the first time on June 16. On 22 June, BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said it was Barla’s personal opinion and the party did not approve it. On August 21, Ghosh said the party would think about Barla’s demand,” said Basu.
Ghosh later said the BJP has taken no policy decision on this issue.
Since June, several Gorkha groups from the Darjeeling hills as well as the Dalit Rajbanshis in the plains have started demanding statehood.