‘Permanent solution’ question hangs in Darjeeling hills
The sudden change in the political contours of Darjeeling hills with Bimal Gurung’s volte-face has raised questions on the “permanent political solution”, a concept that despite being unclear had been steering hill politics till date.
During the last Lok Sabha elections, the BJP, which was supported by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Bimal camp), Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League and other hill-based parties and apolitical organisations, had promised a “permanent political solution” and tribal status to 11 hill communities in its election manifesto.
Without a doubt, the Bimal camp of the Morcha was one of the bigger influencers to help BJP candidate Raju Bista win the Darjeeling seat.
On Vijaya Dashami day, discussions invariably veered on the present political developments in many hill homes.
In the hills, Vijaya Dashami is the most important day of Dashain (Durga Puja festivities) as relatives visit each other’s homes to seek blessings from elders who anoint tika (made of rice, curd and vermilion) on the family members.
Visits to relatives’ homes carry on for a fortnight and this social aspect of the celebration is the most important event of Dashain in the hills. But this year, most people are discussing the sudden change in the political landscape that has cast a shadow on the “permanent political solution”.
“Now with the Bimal camp severing ties with the BJP (and backing Trinamul), the question is about the fate of the permanent political solution,” a resident of Darjeeling said.
On October 21, when Bimal decided to join hands with Trinamul in Calcutta, he unequivocally said that “permanent political solution” should be a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Gurung’s demand, however, will be turned down by his new ally Trinamul, which is clearly opposed to forming a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Both factions of the Morcha, headed by Bimal and Binay, are now with Trinamul. The Binay faction heads the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.
The BJP has not spelled out the details so far on this aspect. The GNLF has maintained the solution should not be anything less than a Sixth Schedule status for the hills.
Raju Bista, Darjeeling MP of the BJP, however, said that though Bimal and his party leaders might have their own understanding and compulsions for negotiating their safe return, the BJP was committed to fulfill their promises made to the people.
“I can assure you all that irrespective of the ever changing political scenarios, BJP will fulfill the promises we have made to the people from our region,” said Bista.
The Darjeeling MP stressed that BJP’s national president J.P. Nadda also iterated the party’s commitment towards finding a permanent political solution and including the 11 left-out Gorkha sub-tribes as Schedule Tribes during his recent visit to Siliguri.
Observers however believe that BJP actually has very few options.
“The BJP government might want to start the process of finding a permanent political solution but these negotiations would be fraught with failure as it would not have the participation of both factions of the Morcha,” said a hill resident.
Another said the state government was unlikely to participate in talks on a permanent political solution as it believes in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.