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Since 1st March, 1999
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Delhi condition greets CM’s fresh talks offer

Calcutta/Darjeeling, June 18: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today made another unsuccessful move to get the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to the discussion table. The earlier snub from the hill party had been on June 13, when it turned down his first invitation for talks.

The chief minister’s letter, which is yet to reach Darjeeling or the Morcha leaders, has failed to generate any positive response from the hills. “We are ready to talk to the chief minister, but only in Delhi where representatives of the Union government will be present,” said Roshan Giri, the Morcha general secretary, in Darjeeling today.

In the letter, the chief minister has asked the Morcha to meet him for discussions on the situation in the hills, state chief secretary Amit Kiran Deb told reporters at Writers’ Buildings in Calcutta this evening.

The resolution from yesterday’s “all-party meet”— the Trinamul Congress and the SUCI had stayed away — at Writers’ was appended to the letter. The resolution said the “expansion of the DGHC’s administrative and financial powers can be considered sympathetically while keeping the present contours of West Bengal unchanged”.

The chief secretary said the letter did not mention any date or time for the meeting. He did not comment when asked if any preconditions have been set for the talks.

The chief minister had said yesterday that he was willing to have tripartite talks with the Centre and the Morcha on the Darjeeling issue. “But the foundation for such talks has to be laid through bipartite talks between the state and the Morcha.” Giri’s comment today virtually ruled out the possibility.

Bhattacharjee had also said yesterday that he had never set any riders for talks in the past, nor would he do so in the future. But Bhattacharjee’s earlier invitation had more or less fixed the agenda.

The letter had mentioned that the discussion would be only on the “restoration of normalcy, maintenance of law and order, development of the region and grievances of the people”. As there was no mention of Gorkhaland, the Morcha had rejected the offer.

An “all-party” meeting had also been convened in the hills by the Morcha yesterday. Thirteen parties, including representatives claiming to be from the Congress, Trinamul and BJP, signed a resolution demanding talks with the Centre on Gorkhaland. There was no mention of any dialogue with the state government.

The hill resolution had also condemned the state government for alleged atrocities perpetrated against the Nepali speaking people of the Dooars and Siliguri by organisations in the plains opposed to the Gorkhaland demand. The government’s refusal to grant permission to the Morcha to hold public meetings in the plains was also criticised.

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