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BJP voice for state rises in Lok Sabha

July 22: Creating Gorkhaland will help integrate the troubled region with the rest of India, senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj said in Lok Sabha today, the first time the party openly supported the demand for carving up Bengal on the floor of the Lower House of Parliament.

Arguing that it was high time that Gorkhaland became a reality, Swaraj, the deputy leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha, said the demand for statehood must not be treated on a par with secessionist movements. She made the comments in the Lok Sabha, while speaking on the demand for grants of the home ministry.

“A group of people from there (Darjeeling hills) came to meet me. They said: ‘We fight for India in the army. We have India in our minds, but people still refer to us as Nepalis because of our features.’ It left me aghast,” she said.

Swaraj argued that smaller states like Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand, created under the NDA’s rule, are easier to manage.

While these new states were born after Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh legislatures had approved their creation, Bengal has not consented to Gorkhaland.

When this was pointed out to Swaraj later in the day, the BJP leader said: “That may be so. But Gorkhaland is an idea whose time has come.”

Samajwadi Party chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, however, criticised Swaraj’s comments, arguing that the creation of smaller states had facilitated the spread of Naxalism. “Had Jharkhand been a part of Bihar, or Chattisgarh of Madhya Pradesh, the respective governments there would have crushed Naxalism by now. Instead, Naxalism is now prospering because of the BJP’s decision to divide states,” Yadav said.

Swaraj is the second BJP leader to raise the Gorkhaland issue in Parliament. Rajiv Pratap Rudy had raised the issue in Rajya Sabha on July 13.

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