|(From left) Bimal Gurung and Mukul Roy. File pictures
March 3: The Trinamul Congress has decided to hold a public meeting in the third week of March either in Mirik or Kalimpong at a time when the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has announced a slew of strikes to boost its statehood movement.
Trinamul leaders in the hills, who visited Calcutta last week and held talks with party general secretary Mukul Roy and some other leaders, said the meeting would be held to campaign in favour of development in the hills.
Mirik is one of the options for the venue because Trinamul has some hill leaders from the place. Kalimpong is the other option because the Lepcha population of the hills is highest there.
On February 13, Gautam Deb, the north Bengal development minister, had gone to Kalimpong to break a hunger strike called by the Lepchas. The community was hurt after the Morcha opposed the formation of a development board for Lepchas under the state government.
Rajen Mukhia, convener of the Trinamul committee in the GTA area, today said: “We had met Mukul Roy and some other leaders on February 28 at Trinamul Bhavan in Calcutta. As it was decided at the earlier meeting held on January 31 at the NHPC bungalow in Siliguri that we would flag off our campaign in the hills in favour of peace, amity and development, the matter was referred to in this meeting. Accordingly, it was decided that we would organise a public meeting, either in Mirik or in Kalimpong in the third week of this month.”
He added: “Mukul Roy would be present at the meeting as also north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb. Roy, while talking to us, stressed that we should apprise the hill people of Trinamul’s principal objective to expedite all-round development across the hills. The same message would be conveyed at the public meeting.”
The Morcha today said in Darjeeling that Bimal Gurung would lead a team to New Delhi tomorrow to meet the President and the home minister. The Morcha said Gurung would be accompanied on his Delhi trip by party general secretary Roshan Giri and Darjeeling MLA Trilok Dewan. “We will be meeting the home minister and the President of India among other leaders and will apprise them of the current situation (in hills),” Giri said.
The Delhi trip would be keenly followed in the hills as Gurung’s meeting with Sushil Kumar Shinde will have a bearing on the Morcha’s agitation. Observers said Gurung’s visit to Delhi was of much importance. “Depending on the outcome of the meeting, the course of the next agitation is likely to be finalised by the party. If things go well, the Morcha might not go ahead with the proposed two-phase 48-hour general strikes in March,” said an observer in Darjeeling.