Shibu Soren - Bimal Gurung plan to carve out Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh from Bengal

Fishing in troubled waters, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chief and former chief minister of Jharkhand, Shibu Soren, accompanied by his son Hemant Soren who is the present deputy chief minister of Jharkhand arrived in Darjeeling, West Bengal on Friday.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2012 02:44 IST
Amitava Banrjee
Amitava Banrjee
Hindustan Times

Fishing in troubled waters, the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) Chief and former chief minister of Jharkhand, Shibu Soren, accompanied by his son Hemant Soren who is the present deputy chief minister of Jharkhand arrived in Darjeeling, West Bengal on Friday. Following a meeting with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) led by president Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling, "Guruji" Shibu Soren declared support to the GJM and the formation of a “Gorkha-Adivasi Pradesh” carved out of West Bengal.

“We have pledged full political support to the GJM wherever required, whether in Kolkata or Delhi. We want a Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh for the welfare of the Adivasis and Gorkhas. We will launch joint movements in future” stated Shibu Soren, addressing the media in Darjeeling.

The 7 member JMM delegation had held a meeting with rebel Adivasi leaders at Mongpong in the foothills of Darjeeling. Following this meeting they had floated a JMM North Bengal Regional Committee with Gautam Toppo as the President and Raju Bara as the Secretary.

Though the JMM-GJM duo did not divulge their future strategy, it was clear that the JMM would encash on tribal sentiments of Terai and Dooars to achieve their political objectives. “We will address the problems of the Adivasis and Gorkhas. Much can be achieved through this united stand” added Soren.

“The Adivasis and the Gorkhas have been exploited. If the West Bengal Government continues turning a deaf ear, we will be compelled to provide backing for the separate state demand” remarked Hemlal Murmu, health minister of Jharkhand.

Political Observers feel that the sudden GJM-JMM bonhomie in the wake of the crucial meeting between the West Bengal chief minister and the GJM is to create pressure on the State Government to relent to the incorporation of more mouzas in the GTA. It is also a counter to the recent opening up of Hill units by the Trinamool Congress at Panighatta in the Kurseong sub division of the Darjeeling district.

“If the Government does not roll back the Justice Sen Committee recommendation we will retract to the Gorkhaland agitation. We are seeking help from the JMM for our separate state demand. They will create awareness and garner Adivasi support for Gorkhaland” added GJM Chief Bimal Gurung.

Hemant Soren, deputy chief minister, Jharkhand said, “We will wait for the outcome of the GJM’s meeting with the West Bengal Chief Minister slated for June 16. Following this we will make public our strategy and future political programmes for this region.”

When questioned whether this political maneuver (tie up with the GJM) would antagonize chief minister Mamata Banerjee and the Trinamool Congress (TMC,) Hemant Soren remarked “We have nothing to do with Mamata Banerjee or the TMC. This is part of our political strategy. We are here on the invitation of the JMM West Bengal committee.” The JMM delegation will be leaving Darjeeling on Saturday.

Reacting to this sudden JMM-GJM bonhomie, Birsa Tirkey, West Bengal State President of ABAVP stated “Whatever the JMM commits is their business and it will affect us in no way. We have a lot of respect for “Guruji” Shibu Soren who has struggled to carve out the tribal state of Jharkhand. However he is being misled in this case. Who did the JMM have a meeting with in Mongpong? It was not the ABAVP. John Barla and his associates have been expelled from the ABAVP and have nothing to do with the Parishad. Guruji should read the GTA Bill carefully before making any commitments.”

The TMC have decided to adopt a wait and watch strategy. “It is too early to comment. We will wait and watch” stated Gautam Deb, TMC leader and North Bengal Development Minister.

The Darjeeling Hills, foothills of Terai and the plains of Dooars at present are steeped in political uncertainty over the inclusion of additional mouzas in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA.) While outfits such as the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad (ABAVP- a pan Indian tribal outfit) are against the inclusion, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) backed by some dissident ABAVP leaders like John Barla have been demanding for the inclusion of 396 mouzas of Terai and Dooars in the GTA.

Terai and Dooars in the recent past have witnessed multiple flashpoints owing to this ongoing imbroglio. A 9 member committee led by retired Justice Shyamal Sen had been constituted by the State Government to look into the GJM demand.

The committee which included 4 GJM representatives recently tabled the recommendation of inclusion of 5 mouzas (3 from Terai region in the foothills of the Darjeeling district and 2 from Dooars in the plains of Jalpaiguri district.)

The GJM were quick to reject the report and threaten a resurrection of the Gorkhaland agitation if the Government implemented the recommendations. The GJM will be holding a meeting with chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Kolkata on Saturday over this issue. A 21 member GJM delegation led by General Secretary Roshan Giri departed from Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars for the Saturday meet. Bimal Gurung will not be attending the meet.

First Published: Jun 16, 2012 02:43 IST