Chalsa (Jalpaiguri), March 13: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today warned other parties not to indulge in divisive politics that threatened to destroy peace in the hills and said that her “rough and tough” government would not tolerate it.
She did not name the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha or the Congress at the government event at Chalsa, but said she would not tolerate the politics of “threats and violence”. Those who were encouraging this were doing so with an eye on the lone Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, she said. Dooars, where Mamata spoke, is a region where the Morcha and its statehood demand have little support.
Painting a cosmic picture of united Bengal, Mamata said: “I love the hills, the Dooars and the Terai.... Darjeeling is my sun, the Dooars is my moon, the Terai is my star.... I appeal to you all, with folded hands, to preserve peace. Do not instigate riots on the basis of race or tribe.”
Chalsa is about 30km from Jalpaiguri town and double the distance from Siliguri.
“Those who think they can benefit by instigating riots, all that they want is one more seat in Parliament. Can you not try to win other seats in the state? Have faith in ma, mati, manush instead of trying to divide and rule. Do not try to split Bengal for one seat. I will not forgive you,” she said.
That she was speaking about the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat was not lost on anyone. The Morcha and the Congress have moved close after the hill party’s ties with Trinamul nose-dived.
The chief minister, according to sources in her party, has been “displeased” with the Morcha’s recent activities in Delhi, facilitated by the Congress’s Deepa Das Munshi.
Mamata used the phrase “rough and tough” to describe herself at a January 29 government event in Darjeeling where she also said that “Darjeeling was a part of us”. The statement had sparked protests immediately and since then, Morcha-state government ties have deteriorated.
Today, she repeated her “rough and tough” line, this time to describe her government. “This government is rough and tough. I’m proud of all of you, you are all my paharadar (guards). All I want to see is a smile on your faces,” she said.
She mentioned another favourite — the “smiling” hills — but said some people were trying to spoil her work.
“The smile had returned to the faces of my brothers and sisters in the hills after we came to power. But there are some who are trying to eliminate that smile out of jealousy. Chalakir dwara mohot karjo hoyna (A noble deed cannot be achieved through cunning),” said Mamata.
North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb and Trinamul Congress all-India general secretary Mukul Roy applauded on the dais.
In an oblique reference to the growing proximity between the Morcha and the Congress, Mamata said nobody was bound to like her politically, but she would not tolerate playing with fire.
Reacting to Mamata’s statement Morcha president and GTA Sabha chief executive Bimal Gurung said: “Yet again, Mamata Banerjee voiced her stand against the division of Bengal, standing in the Dooars. This is not right. Our demand for Gorkhaland includes the Dooars and the Terai. No matter what she says, we are not going to concede even an inch as far as our core demand is concerned.”
Gurung was on his way to Komani near Shibchu this evening. He will stay at Komani for two to three days to hold meetings with leaders from the Dooars to prevent breakaways after the Mamata visit, Morcha sources said.
Around 4pm, on his way along NH31, Gurung passed by the forest rest house at Mongpong where the chief minister is staying. The two did not meet.
State Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya rubbished Mamata’s allegations. “She is saying these things out of her own political compulsions. The Congress was, is and will be with the people in the hills and the plains of Bengal. We are not trying to create any rift anywhere, nor are we trying to execute a political hijack of the Morcha,” Bhattacharya said.