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Centre move 'political'

New Delhi: A home ministry official has said the Centre's decision to withdraw some companies of paramilitary forces from the hills is a "political" compulsion as the Bengal government is averse to including Bimal Gurung in tripartite talks.

"The decision to withdraw the forces is both tactical and political, given the delicate situation in the hills. The Centre wants to involve all the stakeholders in the composite dialogue process but the Bengal government wants to keep Bimal Gurung out," said a senior home ministry official.

While the BJP has backed Gurung and accused Mamata Banerjee of implicating him in false cases, the state has acknowledged his party rival Binay Tamang as the main political leader in the hills.

Sources said the Centre had earlier apprised the state government of a committee it had formed to hammer out a solution to the hill issue and had asked it to include Gurung on the negotiation table.

"But the state government said it would not take part in the talks if Gurung was invited," the official said.

He added that the withdrawal of forces was a way to put pressure on the state to involve the Gurung camp.

"Gurung enjoys the confidence of the Centre. It was on Rajnathji's (Rajnath Singh) appeal last month that he had agreed to call off the strike," a government source said.

The source pointed out that the paramilitary forces had not been deployed in the hills on a permanent basis. "Central troops are not supposed to do the job of local police. There are more pressing things happening elsewhere in the country."

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