After walkout threat, a trip to Delhi - Morcha rejects bandh before Pujas

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By OUR CORRESPONDENT in Darjeeling
  • Published 19.08.08
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Darjeeling, Aug. 19: A nine-member delegation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today left for Delhi to prepare the groundwork for the proposed tripartite talks to be held this month.

Binay Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the party, said: “We have learnt that UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has asked Pranab Mukherjee to handle the Gorkhaland issue. The delegation will be informally meeting Mukherjee tomorrow.”

Tamang also said the party would not support the August 22 general strike called by the CPRM to protest against the alleged betrayal of the Gorkhaland cause by the GNLF. A speedy trial for Chattrey Subba, an accused in the assassination attempt on Subash Ghisingh, and Gorkhaland are the other demands for which the strike has been called.

D.S. Bomzom, the spokesperson of the CPRM, said the strike had been called on issues that were raised by the Morcha as well. “But we don’t understand why they can’t support us,” he said.

Explaining the Morcha stand, Tamang said: “We have announced that we are not in favour of general strikes in the run-up to the festival season. Besides, we are extending all support to Subba by engaging our lawyers.”

Tamang, however, did not specify whether the Morcha would oppose the strike or not.

About the Delhi trip, he said: “Apart from working out a possible date for the meeting, the delegation will also press for a political dialogue.” Indications from the Centre and state are that the first round of tripartite talks will be held at the secretary-level.

“Lots of political will are needed to solve this imbroglio as we are determined not to accept anything less than Gorkhaland,” said Tamang.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung had yesterday said his party would stage a walkout if the demand for Gorkhaland was not discussed in the proposed meeting.

The delegation is likely to convey to Mukherjee the party president’s stand and see to it that the statehood demand is included in the talks agenda.

The Morcha has hinted that in the event of the meeting turning out to be fruitful, the party might soften its stand on the non-cooperation movement that it has launched in the hills.

“The trip to Delhi itself is an indication,” said a Morcha leader. As part of the agitation programme, people in the hills have stopped paying state and central taxes, including telephone and electricity bills, and started sporting number plates with “GL” (Gorkhaland).