Darjeeling, Feb. 18: Bimal Gurung today, while reacting to the passage of the Telangana bill in the Lok Sabha, said he was confident that “sooner than later” the Centre would respect the hill people’s statehood demand.
In his Facebook post, Gurung today congratulated the people of Telangana and made a technical point about the absence of the Andhra Assembly’s consent on the Telangana bill.
“Today’s passage of the Telangana bill makes it clear that state consent is not necessary for its bifurcation, a fact which we have been reiterating for a long time. Those opposing creation of smaller states have wrongly argued that such consent from state assembly is required before rearranging its boundary,” Gurung wrote.
The Bengal government is against bifurcation of the state.
“We, are, confident that the Centre will sooner than later respect the sentiments of the Gorkhaland area and will take an unilateral decision on creating Gorkhaland despite protest from the rest of Bengal. Creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland along the lines of Telengana will fulfil the long standing demand of the people of Darjeeling, Dooars and the surrounding Terai regions and bring justice to the Indian Gorkhas,” Gurung said.
Sources in the hills said that Gurung was trying his best to keep the morale of his supporters high by “highlighting the positives in the Telangana Bill”.
The Morcha this evening said it would hold statehood rallies on February 21 in Darjeeling, Kurseong Kalimpong and Mirik and a dharna in Delhi. It would also convene a central committee meeting to discuss the Telangana issue on February 20.
The hill party chief’s reaction today is unlike the protest announcements he made on July 30 last year when the Congress gave the green signal to the formation of Telangana.
Gurung quit the GTA and called for an immediate agitation that kept the hills virtually shut for over a month.
But the state government acted firmly and deployed paramilitary forces.
Over 1,000 Morcha activists and leaders, among them 10 GTA Sabha members, were arrested.
But the relations between the state and the Morcha have seen a turnaround since.
In recent speeches, Gurung has spoken about the need for development in the hills and of boosting tourism that suffered during the July-August shutdown.
In the Puja season, the hill hotels were empty.
In December last year, Gurung returned to head the GTA.
The Morcha chief himself admitted soon after the agitation ended that several Morcha leaders had stopped meeting him during the agitation days, a sign that the entire Morcha leadership was not keen on a long-drawn protest.
He said people were more interested in work contracts than the statehood struggle. Since December 26, when he took charge again as GTA chief, Gurung has not spoken on Gorkhaland and restricted his speech to development issues.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said this evening that the party would hold a central committee meeting in Darjeeling on February 20 and the four rallies the next day.
He said the February 20 meeting would discuss the Telangana issue and what the hill party needed to do on the statehood front.