Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) president Anit Thapa said on Tuesday that BJP lawmakers should refrain from stoking the sentiments of the hill residents on the statehood demand ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
“Instead, they (BJP legislators) should try to deliver on the promises made to the residents across the hills in the past 15 years. We have been hearing for one-and-a-half decades that the longstanding demand (of Gorkhaland state) will be met and don't want a reiteration. If they can achieve it, we will felicitate them,” Thapa said in Mirik while attending the felicitation of the panchayat members of the BGPM.
Thapa said the BGPM's efforts had led to the restoration of the two-tier panchayat system in the hills after over 20 years and it would expedite the development of rural areas. In the rural polls held on July 8, the BGPM won around 92 per cent of the total seats in the hills.
“We are working in tandem with the state government. The notification for the recruitment of ICDS workers has been issued for the GTA area and soon, another notification for the recruitment to Group C and Group D posts (of the GTA) will be published,” he added.
The BGPM chief said ahead of Parliament elections, the BJP would talk about tripartite talks.
“Such talks have failed to yield any result so far. We have strived for the past five years to restore peace in the hills and developmental initiatives have been taken. People are getting jobs. At this point, no attempt should be made to jeopardise the peaceful situation here for political benefits,” Thapa, who also heads the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, added.
In the past few weeks, Thapa and his colleagues in the BGPM were under pressure as parties in the Opposition in the hills, including the BJP, had been raising their voices against the state government's decision to provide rights to only five decimals of land possessed by tea garden workers. Instead of the five-decimal land, a worker should be provided with the entire plot which is under his possession, the Opposition said. They were also critical of Thapa, who allied with the Trinamul Congress for the rural polls.
Such political attacks from the Opposition made Thapa react and mount pressure on the BJP on the Gorkhaland issue.
“The Lok Sabha polls are ahead and the BJP is under pressure as no decision has been taken by the Centre on the permanent political solution for the hills. On one hand, Anit Thapa is wielding the development card. On the other hand, he is trying to drive home the point that the BJP has not met its commitment. It would be interesting to see how the BJP manages to counter him on the separate state issue,” said a political observer.
Kurseong BJP MLA B.P. Sharma said he had been flagging the Gorkhaland demand constantly.
“Ever since I was elected as an MLA, I have raised the Gorkhaland issue thrice in the Assembly and held a dharna on the premises of the Houses. Ahead of the elections, I will ask my party leaders whether they will give a promise again or there will be some deliverance,” said Sharma.