Darjeeling, Aug. 16: The pro-statehood hill parties today expressed readiness for a dialogue with the Bengal governor but adopted the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s stand of not talking to the state government.
“There is no point talking to the Bengal government, because they will not talk about a Gorkhaland state. However, if the governor (is willing to) intervene and act as a mediator, we are ready to talk to him ---- if he invites us,” said Morcha leader Raju Pradhan.
Pradhan has been appointed coordinator of the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee, formed by an all-party meeting in Darjeeling today to decide the course of the agitation.
The presidents and vice-presidents of the Morcha, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists, Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, Gorkha Rashtriya Congress, Congress, BJP, Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisang and the Gorkhaland Task Force have been made ex-officio members of the committee.
The committee today announced a five-day shutdown from August 19 to 23 but kept the judiciary out of its purview. “The committee has decided to call the Ghar Bhitra Janata (people inside homes) to honour the people’s wishes,” Pradhan said.
Observers believe that since emotions are still running high on the statehood issue, the nine parties decided on another shutdown before scaling the agitation down.
The committee, however, made it clear it was preparing for the long haul. “It (grant of statehood) is a long-drawn process and the people are its power house. We have to preserve our resources,” Pradhan said.
His remark seemed to imply the committee did not want to hobble the region’s economy, especially with the tourist season drawing near.
R.D. Meena, principal secretary to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), said a meeting of the autonomous body’s Sabha to elect a new chief executive would be held only after serving notices to the members.
“We have received a letter from the GTA chairman expressing his desire to hold a GTA Sabha on August 16. However, the meeting to elect the new chief executive will be held after serving notices. We shall have to abide by the procedures laid down in the GTA Act and Rules.”
Sources said a 10-day notice would have to be served.