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Since 1st March, 1999
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Morcha fails to ink BJP manifesto deal
- Hill party gets ready to come home

Darjeeling, March 9: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s meeting with S.S. Ahluwalia this evening remained inconclusive with the leadership being unable to convince him, or his party, the BJP, about the benefits of promising Gorkhaland in the election manifesto.

“We told Ahluwalia that including Gorkhaland in the BJP’s election manifesto would benefit the party not only in Darjeeling but also in other parts of the country, like in Uttarakhand, where there is a sizeable Gorkha population,” said a Morcha leader. “But we got no substantive assurance.”

As a result, the Morcha leaders have decided to return to Darjeeling tomorrow and continue the dialogue with the BJP from here.

The BJP and the Morcha were trying to work out mutually acceptable conditions for an understanding on the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat. The parties were looking towards a formula, which would have benefited both sides. “Even if the word ‘Gorkhaland’ does not figure in the manifesto, a term like the ‘Gorkhas and their homeland in India’ would also be of much importance,” a party source had said earlier in the day.

In another development, the Nationalist Congress Party has surprised many by making public its intention of contesting elections not just from Darjeeling but also from Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri. P.A. Sangma, the all-India general secretary of the NCP, had said in Siliguri yesterday that he was keen on getting Morcha support, especially for the Darjeeling seat. Morcha support in the hills could make the Darjeeling seat winnable even to the NCP, which has virtually no support base in north Bengal.

The Morcha, however, has not indicated any leaning towards the NCP. “We are not bothered about vote politics. We only want to ensure that our demand for a separate state gets stronger. We will continue to work with only this in mind,” Bimal Gurung, the Morcha president, said over the phone from Delhi.

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