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Morcha keen to join govt for Gorkhaland
Resign-and-contest threat from hill outfit

Siliguri, May 11: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will approach Mamata Banerjee to let the party join the new government in case her alliance comes to power.

But the Morcha has also set a rider: the state would have to accept in principal its Gorkhaland demand. If it fails, the Morcha would get its MLAs to resign and then contest the bypoll, repeating the process till the government accepted its demand.

Under existing laws, the Election Commission said it could do little to stop the Morcha from carrying out its threat, a tactic to keep the new government under pressure.

“We have supported the Congress-Trinamul alliance in the Dooars and the Terai. So we have every right to want to participate in the new government if the alliance comes to power,” said party spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri.

“In case our demand is turned down outright, then we shall resign as there is no point in sitting in the Opposition. The GNLF sat in the Opposition for all these years but achieved nothing.”

Chhetri, however, said the Morcha would not apply pressure on the new government to clear its stand on this statehood demand “from day one” but would give it “sufficient time” to make up its mind.

Chhetri said his party was confident of winning not only the three hill seats of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong but also Kalchini in the Dooars.

“We will either be a part of the government or resign from the Assembly, particularly if it is proved beyond doubt that Trinamul and the Congress will not accept our key demand for Gorkhaland,” Chhetri said.

He added that the Morcha had given Mamata a warm reception when she had come to Darjeeling as railway minister and shared a “good” relationship with her.

Mamata has so far said that she was against a further break-up of Bengal but has repeatedly asserted that she will sort out the problem of the hills if she comes to power. She said she would take every segment of the state along with her. “They are our brothers,” Mamata had said in the past, referring to the Gorkha population in the hills.

During her campaign in north Bengal, Mamata had also said she would resolve the hill imbroglio “within 100 days of coming to power”.

The Morcha spokesperson said bypolls would have to be held if his party MLAs resigned. “And we will contest the bypolls too and again resign. Another bypoll would be held and the process would continue,” Chhetri said.

Election Commission officials said they could do nothing to stop the Morcha from contesting the bypolls repeatedly, especially if the party changed its candidates overtime.

“Such a situation has never arisen,” an election commission official said. “We will have to examine it closely. But so far there is nothing to stop them from going ahead with it.”

Chhetri said several problems across the hills that can be resolved only if Gorkhaland is formed.

“These are related to drinking water, education, employment and communication,” Chhetri said. “We sincerely feel that all these can be solved only if a separate state is carved out of Bengal.”

Morcha sources said that after a new government is formed in Bengal the party would focus only on Gorkhaland as otherwise, the next administration would merely try to “pacify” the hills by offering them sops.

“This has happened in the past too. But this time we will not allow it to happen,” said a Morcha leader.

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