Malakar declined to elaborate on the panchayat elections. “Several issues were discussed in detail and I would prefer not to speak on all of them,” he said.
The district Congress president said he has also told Gurung that the party is ready to hold talks with the Morcha on any agenda and at any time. “There is nothing wrong in having discussions for the interests of hills,” he said.
Senior Morcha leaders, who said they were not aware of the meeting, saw the move as a positive step. “If you are telling that the Centre is exploring the possibility of looking at solving the impasse then that is a welcome move as the state government has shown no inclination to redress our grievances,” a Morcha leader said.
State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya and Union minister Deepa Das Munshi said Malakar had spoken to Gurung “as per directive from the leadership”. “Shankar Malakar was asked to talk to Morcha leaders by the Congress leadership to have an understanding of their problems,” Deeps said.
Bhattacharya said Malakar had spoken to him before speaking to Gurung.