Centre’s proposal to meet on Gorkhaland evokes strong reactions from Trinamul, CPM and Congress
The Centre’s proposed tripartite meeting on Gorkhaland on October 7 has evoked strong reactions from Trinamul, CPM and Congress.
Trinamul leaders made it clear that “not an inch of land in Bengal” could be given a different name. The CPM demanded that the solution should be greater autonomy within the state. The Congress dubbed it as a “political stunt” of the BJP ahead of the Assembly polls to stoke hill sentiments and gain votes.
Trinamul leaders pointed that the Centre should have informed the state government before convening a meeting on such a “serious issue” such as Gorkhaland.
Tourism minister Gautam Deb was blunt.
“The state government has carried out an array of development work in the hills. Ahead of elections, BJP is trying to create a new situation to gain some political dividend. We want development work to continue in the hills but want to make it clear that not an inch of land in Bengal can be given some other name,” the minister said.
Shanta Chhetri, a Rajya Sabha member of the Trinamul based in Kurseong, who is also a member of Trinamul’s core committee, said: “The Centre should have informed the state before convening a meeting on such a serious issue. We doubt whether any meeting, where only some officials have been invited, can at all lead to any results.”
Agreed CPM veteran Asok Bhattacharya, the Siliguri MLA and a member of party’s state secretariat.
“We want a permanent solution to the hill issue and feel that the solution is greater autonomy with appropriate validation. But it has to be within the state (of Bengal). It would be wrong if the Centre does not call all political parties to make a decision on the issue. Inviting one or two parties won’t serve the purpose,” said Sankar Malakar, a working president of the state Congress, blamed the BJP’s “stunts”. The BJP has always resorted to political stunts and this time, as the Assembly elections are ahead, the party is trying to use the issue again,” said Malakar. He added that the Congress had always thought about the hill people. “In 1988, it was during Rajeev Gandhi’s tenure (when DGHC was formed) and again in 2012, it was during Manmohan Singh’s tenure (when GTA was formed). Congress-run governments in the Centre have acted in the interest of the hills,” he said.
The Centre’s move has also left political analysts aback.
According to them, as anti-Gorkhaland sentiment is strong among most people in Bengal, BJP rivals would make it an issue ahead of the state polls.
“It would be interesting to see how BJP leaders counter such a campaign, as this time the central government has not resorted to any ambiguity but clearly mentioned that the talks are on Gorkhaland,” said an observer.
State BJP president Dilip Ghosh could not be contacted. However, Sayantan Basu, a state general secretary of the party, said: “Gorkhaland is the issue. However, the BJP is never in favour of dividing the state. It will be seen if a permanent solution can be reached within the framework of the Constitution other than dividing Bengal. That process has started. The state government has tortured the Gorkhas. It has to be rectified and some state ministers should be punished as well,” said Basu.
Additional reporting by Arkamoy Datta Majumdar