Darjeeling, Oct. 3: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it was hopeful of the Centre convening the tripartite meeting on October 23 to solve the hill impasse though the state government has protested Delhi’s unilateral decision to call the talks.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, today said: “We have been told by the Centre that the meeting will take place on October 23. As of now, there has been no change in the Centre’s plan even though we have not yet formally received a letter. The talks will definitely be held.”
On September 30, Giri had said that Suresh Kumar, the joint secretary of the Union home minister looking after Centre-state relations, had called him up to convey that the tripartite meeting will be held on October 23.
Home ministry sources had not been as definite about the date as Giri. Sources in Delhi had said the talks would be held after October 22.
The Mamata Banerjee government is, however, displeased that such an announcement was made without taking the state into confidence.
“We are not happy with the Centre’s role. Despite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stating that no talks (between the Centre and the Morcha) would be held without taking the state government into confidence, the Centre is working in its own way,” said north Bengal development minister Gautam Deb in Bijanbari yesterday.
Deb did not specify whe-ther the state would attend the meeting if the Centre does go ahead with the schedule.
“The Trinamul workers will take to the streets across the hills to protest against the Centre’s role,” he said.
Morcha leaders, however, are eagerly waiting for the Centre’s official communication on the talks.
Observers believe that the Morcha and even the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee, which was steering the statehood protests, have little option but to hope for the best.
“The Morcha can only hope for the best now. The Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee had lifted the month-long closure on the grounds that the Union home minister had assured them that the talks would be held. The meeting would be the Morcha’s only face-saver,” said an observer.
All eyes are also trained on the Morcha’s foundation day celebration at Chowrastha on October 7. Morcha chief Bimal Gurung is expected to address the public that day.
Today, Deb started distributing compensation cheques to victims of the Saradha scam in north Bengal.
Fifty-two beneficiaries were given compensation ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000 at the SDO’s office in Kurseong.
The 12-hour transport agitation by the drivers of Darjeeling was almost total across the hills today. Very few vehicles were seen plying.
The agitation also affected schools as attendance was less than normal in many institutions.
The agitation had been called by the co-ordination committee formed by the transporters to protest against the arrest of Narbu Lama and Pramod Srimal, the president and secretary of the All Transport Joint Action Committee, respectively.