Mamata says firm no to Gorkhaland
Darjeeling will never be sliced out of West Bengal, remarked the state chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday even as she pilloried the centre for pushing through the Telengana statehood before the Lok Sabha elections for a few extra seats.
While Mamata took on the centre in Kolkata, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders worked out a two-pronged strategy to step up thei agitation - stick to the call of the indefinite bandh in the Darjeeling Hills from Saturday (on the heels of the 72-hour long bandh which ends at 6 am on Thursday,) and rush a team to New Delhi to meet central leaders to press for Gorkhaland.
Mamata, who started off by saying GJM president Bimal Gurung's resignation from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) has been accepted, launched into a criticism of the centre for its nod on Telengana, though she hastened to add that she had nothing against the new state, or its people.
Significantly, GJM has revived its stir for a separate state of Gorkhaland after the Congress Working Committee approved the Telengana state.
The GJM has called for a closure of all government Offices (state, central, GTA and municipalities) during the two days of bandh relaxation on Thursday and Friday.
"Banks and Post Offices will remain open along with the educational institutions during the two days of relaxation" added said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri. Tea gardens and cinchona plantatioins would be, however, exempted from the bandh.
The Morcha will be sending a six-member team led by Giri to Delhi on Friday.
"We will meet leaders of the ruling party and the opposition in Delhi to press for the Gorkhaland demand" stated Giri. Other members in the delegation include Trilok Dewan (Darjeeling MLA), Harka Bahadur Chettri (MLA Kalimpong), Rohit Sharma (MLA Kurseong) and GJM central committee member DK Pradhan.
In Kolkata Mamata strongly disapproved of any GJM meeting with the centre.
"The centre must remember that it has a role in maintaining the peace in Darjeeling Hills," the chief minister said alleging that a couple of union ministers have fueled the fresh tension in the hills by encouraging Gurung to do so.
"I have got specific information that some of the union ministers individually met Gurung and asked to start a fresh movement on the Gorkhaland issue. They also promised Gurung that that if not a separate state, they would try their best for union territory status for Darjeeling. I have decided to write to the Prime Minister and ask him whether it was responsible behaviour on part of the central ministers," said Mamata.
The West Bengal Congress president, Pradip Bhattacharjee retorted by saying Mamata Banerjee is unnecessarily politicizing the Telengana issue knowing very well that Telengana issue is not comparable with the Gorkhaland issue.
Mamata also blamed Congress for deliberately giving the Telengana issue a seal before the Lok Sabha polls. "The Telegena issue was raised five years ago. Why did the centre give a go ahead before the Parliament poll?" said the chief minister.
According to her, Congress has deliberately taken such a move before the general elections with a hope to win a few extra seats.
Claiming that she would not dissolve the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), she cautioned Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) of stern action if there is trouble in the hills.
"The law will take its own course. But if anyone creates tension at Darjeeling, the state government will take strong action. We cannot dissolve the GTA since it has been created through a tripartite agreement between the state government, Union government and GJM," the chief minister said.
The leader of opposition in West Bengal assembly, Dr Suryakanta Mishra too opposed the Union government on Telengana issue and said that the very idea of creating smaller states is not desirable.
Giri also criticized the government's decision to send central forces.