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Clear stand on hills, Trinamul tells Cong

Siliguri, July 31: Encouraged by the recent success in the panchayat polls and huge turnout at the “martyrs’ rally” in Calcutta, Trinamul Congress president Mamata Banerjee has sought a government white paper on development in the Darjeeling hills and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s movement for a separate state.

“Didi (Mamata) has asked us to follow up on her demand,” Gautam Deb, Darjeeling district Trinamul president said today.

Deb also asked the Congress to clear its stand regarding the Morcha’s demand for Gorkhaland. They said the Congress MP from Darjeeling, Dawa Narbula, who has spoken out in favour of Gorkhaland, and PCC chief Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, who has opposed it, are sending mixed messages.

“The Congress stand is really confusing. One of its members of Parliament is holding dialogue with the party’s chief (Sonia Gandhi) in favour of the formation of a separate state. At the same time, its state president, Das Munshi, has been saying that they are against the idea of further division of Bengal,” said Deb.

According to Deb, the Bengal government alone is responsible for the current state of affairs in the hills. “It has not done anything for the development of the hills. Unemployment is also a reason for such a movement,” he said.

“What we wanted to know from the government is what it has done so far regarding the Sixth Schedule status for the hills and how it views the renewed demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland,” Deb said.

The district Trinamul president also came down heavily on the CPM MLA from Siliguri, Asok Bhattacharya, who had criticised Partha Chatterjee, the leader of the Opposition in the Assembly for allegedly hobnobbing with the Morcha.

“Bhattacharya alleged that Trinamul had connections with Morcha leaders, which is not true. He levelled the charge a couple of months ago, after the leader of the Opposition met Morcha hunger-strikers at Salbari when the fast was on across north Bengal” Deb said.

“We believe in Gandhian principles and the Morcha supporters were following them to pursue their demands. There is always something beyond election-politics and our senior leader (Chatterjee) had expressed his solidarity with their methods by meeting them. It does not mean that we support their movement,” Deb added.

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