The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 1 , 2014
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Plains posers for Ahluwalia

Siliguri, March 31: The Darjeeling BJP candidate, S.S. Ahluwalia, today faced the Gorkhaland question in the plains, where the idea of statehood has many opposers.

Ahluwalia was at a meeting of the Siliguri Bar Association on the Siliguri court premises when he was asked by a couple of lawyers why his party raked up the Gorkhaland question election after election.

“Back in 2009, the BJP had said that the demand for Gorkhaland would be sympathetically considered. Again in 2014, the same assertion has been made by your party. Why are you repeatedly raking up this issue ahead of the polls?” asked a senior lawyer.

Ahluwalia, who did not lose his cool, said: “Gorkhaland is not the only issue which can resolve the problems of the Gorkhas. There are several other problems faced by the Gorkhas and other communities living in this part of the country. Our intention is to resolve these problems and expedite development of the area. The demand of the Gorkhas would be examined sympathetically by us.”

As soon as he finished, another lawyer asked: “Do you feel the conditions in Darjeeling match the situation which led to the formation of three new states by the erstwhile NDA government?”

Ahluwalia, a seasoned politician, smiled.

“It is the state reconstruction commission which looks after these demands and then makes its recommendations.”

The answer, however, did not satisfy the lawyer who wanted elaboration.

This led to chaos as lawyers accompanying Ahluwalia asked him to come out of the room and visit other rooms of the association, without lingering further.

Some others, seated in the room, kept on asking for an answer.

The BJP candidate, however, walked out of the room. He then spoke to other lawyers.

In total, he spent an hour in the bar association.

After coming out, Ahluwalia said: “I am a law graduate and had been here to interact with members of the legal fraternity. The discussions were cordial.”

He was critical at a section of the media for “trying to create bitterness among hills and plains (people).”

“Our party has made it clear that it will examine appropriately and consider the longstanding demands of Gorkhas and adivasis. However, Gorkhaland is not the sole issue here and a section of the media is reporting in a manner which can create bitterness between the hills and plains,” Ahluwalia said.

He reconfirmed that Narendra Modi, the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, would visit Siliguri on April 10.