Chidambaram (fourth from left), Gurung (to the left of the home minister) and other Morcha leaders in Delhi on Thursday
June 2: The Centre today indicated that with the change of guard at Writers’, it preferred the Gorkhaland issue to be sorted out in Calcutta instead of Delhi.
Union home minister P. Chidambaram asked Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung to “co-operate” with the state government and find common ground with it on as many contentious issues as possible at the scheduled bipartite meeting on Monday, sources said.
The home minister told Gurung, who led a Morcha delegation to him at his North Block office today, that a tripartite meeting between the Centre, state government and the hill party would be held later to build on the June 6 discussions at Writers’. Gurung, however, requested Chidambaram to hold the meeting soon.
Gurung, the sources said, promised the home minister that the Morcha would fully co-operate with the Mamata Banerjee-led government.
“He (Chidambaram) told us that we should sit for meetings stretching over two to three days instead of a single meeting to solve the (Gorkhaland) issue,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the Morcha’s Kalimpong MLA and party spokesperson.
Chhetri said the Morcha had raised the territory issue at today’s meeting. “The home minister told us he was confident that the issue could be resolved through dialogue. He requested us to fast-track the process of solving the contentious issues,” the Morcha MLA said.
While the Morcha wants the Gorkha-dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai included in the proposed interim set-up for Darjeeling, the erstwhile Left Front government had not agreed to it.
Gurung assured Chidambaram that the Morcha did “not want to put any pressure on the new government”. Earlier too, the Morcha chief had said he would give Mamata’s government “time to settle down”. “Our movement will remain democratic. The new chief minister has announced a good package for the (development of) the hills,” Gurung said.
After the meeting, he told reporters that the Morcha would not drop its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state. He said the Left government’s stubbornness” had “forced” the Morcha to approach the Centre to resolve the issue. Chhetri said the Morcha’s “mandate is for statehood”.
Besides Gurung and Chhetri, the Morcha MLAs of Darjeeling and Kurseong, and party general secretary Roshan Giri were part of the delegation that met Chidambaram.
Activists and supporters of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today picketed on national highways, downed shutters and forcibly closed banks and post offices in the Dooars to protest an alleged Intuc attack on the leader of a trade union backed by the tribal outfit. This is the first shutdown in the region in three months.