|Deepa Das Munshi and Bimal Gurung at the Bagdogra airport on Friday. Pictures by Kundan Yolmo
Bagdogra, March 8: Deepa Das Munshi today said the Centre would convene a meeting of the Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to discuss the hill outfit’s charge that the state was interfering in the functioning of the GTA Sabha.
The Union minister of state for urban development made the announcement at Bagdogra airport upon her arrival from Delhi. She returned by the same flight which Morcha leaders Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri also took.
“Morcha leaders had been to Delhi to meet the President and the Union home and finance ministers. While meeting the ministers, they complained that the Mamata Banerjee government was not complying with the GTA agreement and infringing on the authority of the hill council. The Centre will soon convene a tripartite meeting to discuss the Morcha’s grouse. The meeting will be attended by the representatives of the state governments and the Morcha,” Deepa said.
She said the Centre would also talk to the chief minister and senior state government officials and ask them to ensure that the GTA Act was implemented in full and the hill authority functioned smoothly. “We (the Union government) are keen to see that the GTA discharges it duties at its best without any disruption,” the Raiganj MP added.
Reacting to state minister Gautam Deb’s charge that “the Congress is playing with fire” in the hills, Deepa said: “The Morcha leaders had approached us (Congress) to help fix meetings with Union ministers. As a responsible party, the Congress would never resort to anything like inciting people in the hills. We would rather say Trinamul, through its politics and wrong steps, has set the ground for fire in the hills.”
At the meetings with the Union ministers, Deepa said, the Morcha delegation had been asked to call off the scheduled strikes and shutdowns. “The tourism season is coming closer and the agitation would lead to financial loss in the hills,” she added.
Morcha president and GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung today iterated that party leaders would not meet Mamata Banerjee during her trip to north Bengal from March 12 to 14. “She will keep coming to north Bengal. We have met the central ministers and told them about the problems hindering the smooth functioning of the GTA. The sessions were cordial and effective and right now, we don’t find any reason to meet the chief minister,” Gurung said.
The Morcha chief denied that his party was behind the attack on Trinamul Congress workers in Kalimpong on Wednesday.
“It is a long drawn conspiracy. It is their (Trinamul’s) political strategy to create rift among people and make them fight against each other. The state government’s decision to form a development board for the Lepchas was part of such a plan,” he said.
The Morcha chief said there were several other parties which carried out political activities in the hills. “Trinamul is a new entrant in the hills and we don’t feel that our party even needs to think about it. We can simply ignore Trinamul even if it plans any political activity in the hills,” he said.
Trinamul leader and north Bengal development minister Deb took exception to Deepa’s announcement of the tripartite meeting.
“She has no right to speak on the issue. She is neither in charge of the Union home ministry nor the spokesperson of the central government. Deepa talked about the tripartite meeting to discuss the Morcha’s allegation without any formal communication between the Centre and the state government,” said Deb.