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Mamata calls for keeping Bengal united

Siliguri (WB), Jan 31 (PTI): Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday called for keeping West Bengal united and countered Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung’s charge that her government was bent upon adopting a divide and rule policy for the hills.

“The government's stand is very clear. We will work for keeping the state united. We are for a united Bengal,” Mamata told reporters after a meeting with members of the Darjeeling district Trinamool Congress here.

On Gurung's charge that the government was pursuing a ”divide and rule” policy for the hills after she proposed development councils for the Lepchas and Buddhists, she said, ”We are for overall development of Darjeeling. We will not resort to divide and rule and I believe the GJM will also not go to that extent.”

Seeking to downplay Gurung's threat of a 'militant' agitation, she said, “We will see when it (agitation) happens. We took over reins of the state by taking oath as per Constitution. They (GJM) too are in power in the GTA by taking oath in accordance with Constitution. This is the spirit of responsibility.”

She said it was the duty of the administration to take both hard and soft stands depending on the situation.        ”I will not be defeated in my job. I am born in Bengal, but my motherland is India,” she said.

However, she reminded the audience that the GJM as a political entity could launch a movement and adopt a political programme.

“Everyone loves one's motherland. GJM has given a slogan (for Gorkhaland). They always give such slogans and they think that by doing this their party will survive,” she said.

She pointed out that if tourists were not able to come to the hills, the livelihood of the hill people would be at stake. Trade and commerce would be adversely affected.

“Such a situation will not develop. We want that hill people live here in peace and prosperity,” the chief minister said.

Mamata said that not only Darjeeling, the government was trying its best to develop Jangalmahal and other districts as well.

“It's my challenge to keep the hills smiling. Don't you notice that the Kanchenjungha is smiling, dazzling? I will keep my promises.”

On her proposal to form development councils for the Lepchas and Buddhists and resentment of the GJM, the chief minister said, “The GJM may have some grudges, but it will forget. We will form such a council. It has been mentioned in the GTA agreement. We will form a simillar council for the Buddhists. We want all to keep well.”

“How the North Bengal festival is being celebrated? There is a spate of development projects like eco-tourism schemes and film city cum tele industry all over north Bengal after my government toook charge,” she pointed out.

She announced that at Gajoldoba, near Siliguri, a Rs 2,500 crore eco-tourism project would be set up, which would give a boost to Siliguri's economy and promised to return to see for herself the progress of the development schemes.