Darjeeling hills send only three MLAs to the West Bengal Assembly while the rest of the state elects 291 MLAs in the 294-member House, points out West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh in a telephonic conversation with NH. “We are obviously against any further partition of Bengal,” he says while dismissing the role of BJP’s Member of Parliament from Darjeeling, SS Ahluwalia.
Ahluwalia and his predecessor Jaswant Singh had supported the demand for a separate Gorkhaland. Ahluwalia was in the delegation of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) which called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March this year with the demand. And GJM leader Bimal Gurung said in Darjeeling that he was in touch with central ministers and was hopeful of support by the Centre.
“BJP’s state unit cannot do much about it. But the Centre and the Prime Minister is sympathetic and we hope to achieve our goal,” Gurung declared even as the All-Party meeting adopted a resolution in favour of a separate Gorkhaland. The BJP representative Suman Sharma, who attended the meeting, left before the media briefing and Kailash Vijayvargiya, who is in charge of West Bengal affairs, told The Telegraph that though Sharma was present at the meeting, he had not signed on the resolution.
Central Government officials meanwhile confided in New Delhi that additional companies of the CRPF were being rushed to West Bengal. Law and order, they held, was a state subject and the Centre, which has asked for a report on the situation from the state government, would help if assistance was sought to maintain peace in the hills.
The show of strength by the state government, which rushed police reinforcements to the hill, brought about a semblance of peace and order to Darjeeling, where government offices functioned normally on Wednesday and schools were open. The Himalayan toy train, however, remained suspended as a precautionary measure and tourists continued to leave in droves. In any case the tourist season is drawing to a close and the GJM appears to have timed its indefinite strike with this in mind.
While opposing the demand for separate Gorkhaland, Ghosh declared, “Gorkhas are nationalists and bravehearts, ready to help others but it is Mamata Banerjee who has forced them to take a hard stand.”
Taking a swipe at party MP Ahluwalia, he said “let him do what he wants. He is the Member of Parliament from Darjeeling seat. In this capacity, he can meet PM with anybody.”
Accusing Mamata Banerjee of adding fuel to the fire, Ghosh blamed her for dividing Gorkhas into eleven sub castes and form sub-caste based development boards for them. Funds began to be sent to these boards instead of the Gorkha Territorial Administration, he pointed out, which incensed GJM.
What possibly alarmed GJM even more is the aggressive campaigning by AITC (All India Trinamool Congress) which not only wrested control of Mirik municipality but also opening accounts in Kalimpong and Kurseong.