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Narbula against split of state, repeats party stand

Siliguri, March 23: The Congress candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, Dawa Narbula, today made it clear that he did not support the demand for Gorkhaland. He said as a Congress worker, his stand was the same as his party’s.

“My opinion is same as that of the party,” Dawa said at the first news conference addressed jointly by the Darjeeling district Congress and Trinamul Congress — after the statewide alliance agreed upon— here today.

Narbula’s assertion comes when the CPM and its Left allies have been repeatedly accusing him of supporting the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, particularly after Congress leaders like Pranab Mukherjee and Priya Ranjan Das Munshi made it clear that the party was against any further division of the state. “The Congress is earnest about resolving the Gorkhaland issue but is against any further division of Bengal,” Mukherjee had said here at a meeting on March 7. The sitting MP alleging that the CPM was practising double standards. “The CPM leaders themselves are writing to parties like the ABGL and the CPRM, pro-Gorkhaland forces, seeking support for its candidate,” Narbula said. “Such double standards will not work.”

Although Narbula did not answer when asked what his prospects would be if the Morcha entered into an alliance with the BJP, district Congress leaders made it clear that the party was seeking support from even Bimal Gurung’s outfit. “Our high command has started talks with the Morcha leaders. We are approaching other parties as well to defeat the CPM,” said Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president. “Even if there is no formal alliance with the hill parties and the Morcha in particular, we are confident that people there will vote in Narbula’s favour.”

The Congress-Trinamul alliance, district leaders said, would primarily focus on development. “It will be our main campaign plank although we cannot ignore Gorkhaland,” Malakar said. Trinamul district president Gautam Deb said top leaders of both parties were expected here during the campaign.

In another development, the sub-divisional administration of Siliguri lodged FIRs against the BJP, BSP, CPM, Pragatishil Indira Congress and the Congress. Sharad Dwivedi, the SDO of Siliguri, had last week requested all political parties to clear the government property of graffiti within 24 hours. He lodged the complaints after they failed to obey orders.

Morcha in Delhi

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung and four other party leaders who are currently camping in New Delhi are expected to meet Union home minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday, reports our correspondent from Darjeeling. “Things are still positive with the BJP and will be clear by tomorrow evening,” said Pradeep Pradhan, the vice-president of the Morcha, over the phone.

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