Calcutta, Aug. 12: State Congress leaders today distanced themselves from those in the party’s hill unit who attended the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-initiated all-party meeting.
“The leadership does not approve of the decision of a few party people who joined today’s all-party meeting called by the Morcha in support of its statehood movement in the hills,” state Congress president Pradip Bhattacharya said over phone from Delhi this afternoon.
Bhattacharya said the Congress could not be a party to Morcha’s indefinite strike in the hills in support of the statehood demand. “Those who attended the all-party meeting will face disciplinary action,” he said.
But the hill Congress leaders who attended the meeting said they had done so according to the instruction of the Darjeeling district Congress committee (hills).
“I, along with Lawerence P.T. Lama, the president of the Darjeeling Congress town committee, and Altaf Hussian, the president of the minority cell, attended the meeting according to the decision of the district committee (hills),” said Chhabi Rai, general secretary of the Congress (hills).
“We would also like to place on record that the Congress district committee had adopted a resolution in 2004 supporting the Gorkhaland demand,” he added.
Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president, when contacted, said he would seek an explanation from the three party leaders. “Those who attended today’s meeting have done it on their own and the party has nothing to do with it.”
Malakar also dismissed Rai’s claim that there was a resolution by the Darjeeling district Congress Committee (hills) supporting the Gorkhaland demand in 2004.
“As president of the Darjeeling district Congress, I want to make it clear that there was no resolution by us in 2004 in support of the Gorkhaland demand. This is baseless and untrue,” he said.
Since a lone BJP leader was also present in today’s meeting, the ruling Trinamul was quick to politicise the issue by hinting at a nexus between the two parties.
“We have been hinting at the nexus of the Congress and the BJP with the Morcha for their own political interests,” said minister Gautam Deb.
“It was proved today as representatives of both these parties were present at the all-party meeting called by the Morcha,” he said.
State BJP president Rahul Sinha said the party had told its representative to attend the meeting. “We have made it clear that if our party is invited, we would attend it as there is no harm in listening to what the Morcha leaders want to say,” he said.