The Kamtapur Progressive Party (KPP), a regional party in north Bengal with considerable clout among the Rajbanshi population that dwells here, has expressed disgruntlement at the BJP and has threatened to launch movement across the region if the BJP led Centre does not make any move over their demand for statehood.
“Since 2014, senior BJP leaders have time and again promised us that they would consider our demand but so far, nothing has been done by the central government. We want to make it clear that if the Centre does not make any move during the upcoming winter session of Parliament, we will launch a movement across north Bengal against the party. They can’t simply get our support with hollow promises,” said Uttam Roy, general secretary of the party.
Other political forces such as the the Kamtapur Peoples’ Party (United), a breakaway faction, and the Greater Cooch Behar Peoples’ Association in this region are also proponents of separate statehood.
BJP legislator of Alipurduar John Barla, who is a Union minister of state now, has also flagged a similar demand.
According to political observers, one of the key reasons for the success of the saffron camp in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls when it won seven of eight seats in north Bengal was its promise to look into the demands of statehood raised by the Rajbanshis and the Gorkhas.
“However, the Narendra Modi government has not shown any indication that it is considering the demands. This led to protests in the hills which made the Centre convene a tripartite meeting last month. Now the Rajbanshis are aggrieved,” said an observer.
“The saffron camp has started losing support, as was evident at the recent bypoll in Dinhata. It would be interest¬ing to see how BJP handles the situation, especially when some state leaders are against the demand,” the observer added.
KPP leaders told newspersons that the party will launch a membership drive in north Bengal and in adjoining areas of lower Assam from next month. “We intend to provide membership to at least one lakh people of this region. The drive will start from December and go on till January end next year,” Roy, the party’s general secretary, said.