The Telegraph
Tuesday , September 12 , 2017

Push for hill tripartite talks

- Involving Centre could pose challenge to 'state subject' stand, say analysts

Mamata arrives at Bagdogra airport. (Passang Yolmo)

Siliguri, Sept. 11: The hill parties are likely to request Mamata Banerjee at tomorrow's meeting to hold tripartite talks involving the Centre to resolve the impasse in the region.

Anit Thapa, who belongs to the Binay Tamang lobby and had represented the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the previous meeting with the state government in Calcutta, had asserted yesterday the need for tripartite talks.

"We want the government to convene tripartite talks to discuss our demand for a separate state. If no decision is taken on September 12, I will launch an indefinite hunger strike," Thapa had told a public meeting yesterday.

The GNLF, which today announced names of eight delegates to attend the meeting tomorrow, spoke on similar lines.

"Our party president Mann Ghisingh will lead the delegation. We will seek tripartite talks so that the stalemate can be resolved. We also want the strike to be withdrawn and the onus is now on the Morcha," said Mahendra Chhetri, GNLF general secretary.

A team sent by Morcha chief Bimal Gurung to Delhi last week was also believed to have urged Union home minister Rajnath Singh for tripartite talks.

The demand for a tripartite meeting might pose a new challenge to Mamata as the state has so far addressed the hill issue as a law-and-order problem, political analysts said.

Law and order is a state subject.

Leaders of the Morcha, Jana Andolan Party and the GNLF are likely to attend the meeting tomorrow, while the CPRM and ABGL might give it the miss, as they had done the last time.

While the Bengal government is averse to any demand for statehood, Gurung has said the party will think about lifting the strike only if talks start on Gorkhaland.

"This is why the hill parties will push the demand tomorrow. But as the chief minister has made it clear that she is against any division of Bengal, it would be interesting to see how the state reacts to the call for tripartite talks," said an observer.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the JAP president who will attend the talks tomorrow, said the state should have already given a thought to involving the Centre.

"Unless there is a promise of a tripartite meet, I think any other solution would fall short of the minimum expectation," he added.

Political analysts pointed that the demand might have cropped out of a general feeling in the hills that the strike needs to be withdrawn immediately but at the same time give the impression that the agitation has "achieved" something.

"Involving the Centre will give some excuse to the hill parties to lift the strike. But the state has been maintaining that it is a law-and-order issue and must be addressed by the government here. It is unlikely that the state would give its assent for tripartite talks," an analyst said.

In Calcutta, Manoj Dewan, the BJP president in Darjeeling, told national party chief Amit Shah: "The state's handling of the hills is very poor. The Centre must intervene."

The Bengal government has till now continued to ignore Gurung and those believed to close to him. Till this evening, no invitation has reached the Gurung lobby despite it announcing the names of delegates.

Tamang, on the other hand, has received an invitation.


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