Pro-BJP Gorkha parties support Mamata Banerjee’s drive against citizenship act, say ‘it will harm our people’
Exclusion of an estimated 1 lakh names belonging to the Gorkha community from the NRC in Assam had triggered panic in Darjeeling last year.Updated: Jan 24, 2020 09:42 IST
Two Darjeeling-based Gorkha outfits, that supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, have backed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in fight against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC), adding a fresh twist to Darjeeling’s complex political situation.
BJP won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat with a massive margin after it obtained the support of a number of Gorkha outfits that dominate politics in the hills. Of these parties, the fugitive Bimal Gurung-led faction of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has not spoken a word on CAA and NRC but Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) have publicly expressed their opposition to NRC and CAA.
“The NRC and CAA have not gone well among a large section of the Gorkhas. The CAA should also have the provisions to accord Indian citizenship for those Gorkhas who were persecuted in Bhutan and driven out of the country the late 1980s,” said CPRM spokesperson Govind Chettri. The party has not joined BJP’s campaign in favour of CAA.
GNLF spokesperson Mahindra Chettri echoed his fellow CPRM leader, “CAA, NRC and NPR will harm the Gorkha people. We are even ready to support Mamata Banerjee if she agrees to bring Darjeeling hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.”
Jan Andolan Party (JAP), another hill-based Gorkha outfit, too, opposed CAA and NRC. “There is nothing about the protection of the Gorkhas in the CAA who were prosecuted from Burma during the Second World War,” said Amar Lama, a bureau member of JAP.
Banerjee held a roadshow in Darjeeling on Wednesday where she questioned the rationale behind implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA in the hill region when it is not applicable in Northeastern states. “Why this discrimination? Why did you (the Centre) leave out one lakh Gorkhas from the National Register of Citizens in Assam? Why did you leave out 13 lakh Hindus? Indians are now asking whether they have to fight for their freedom 70 years after Independence,” she said at the rally.
Exclusion of an estimated 1 lakh names belonging to the Gorkha community from the NRC in Assam had triggered panic in Darjeeling last year. Over the past few months, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) and its alliance partner, the Binay Tamang faction of GJM, have launched an intense campaign in the hills claiming that a large number of the local tribal population would lose citizenship if NRC was implemented.
Nearly all leaders of the pro-BJP faction of GJM, led by Bimal Gurung, are on the run for being wanted by the police in connection with multiple cases related to violence.
BJP’s Darjeeling MP Raju Singh Bista blamed TMC for the panic among the local people by indulging in vote-bank politics.
“The onus of providing land rights to the people living in tea gardens, cinchona plantations and forest areas lie with her government. Even after 72 years of Independence, state government has refused to grant land rights to the people of Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars. This is the root cause of all insecurities our people suffer from,” Bista, a Gorkha himself, said in a press statement issued on Wednesday.