Darjeeling, June 19, 2017: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM,) a BJP ally feels that they have been let down by the Centre with respect to the formation of the separate state of Gorkhaland and the ongoing impasse in the Darjeeling hills of North Bengal.
"We feel used like a pawn in between the Centre and State politics" stated Amar Singh Rai, the GJM Member of Legislative Assembly from the Darjeeling constituency. Incidentally in the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections BJP candidates Jaswant Singh and SS Ahluwalia respectively had emerged victorious from Darjeeling backed by the GJM and riding piggyback on the Gorkhaland demand.
During both the elections, though shying away from the word "Gorkhaland," addendums in the BJP election manifestos had stated that the party would sympathetically examine the long pending demand of the Gorkhas. In the hills both the GJM and the BJP safely interpreted the "long pending demand" as the issue of Gorkhaland.
"During his election campaign in North Bengal, Prime Minister Modi had stated that the dream of the Gorkhas is his dream. The Centre has not fulfilled the PM's statement hence doubts have crept up regarding the Centre's assurances" added Rai.
With respect to the ongoing impasse in the Hills, Rai stated "The Centre's intervention is still awaited. The Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia is not present here during this hour of crisis. It is very unfortunate. We are disheartened by the BJP and NDA" added Rai.
The MLA feels that the Gorkhas have not been given their due by the Government. "However we will not sit in bipartite talks with the State. We will only hold talks with the Centre on the one point agenda of Gorkhaland" stated Rai.
West Bengal Chief Minister had given preconditions to the GJM to come to the table for dialogue. "They will first have to withdraw the indefinite bandh, restore normalcy and then come to the table" Mamata Banerjee had stated in a press conference in Kolkata on Saturday.
"Our precondition for talks with the State is that they will have to remove all the security forces and restore normalcy and then we will talk to the State" countered Rai. The MLA stated that autonomous bodies like the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration have utterly failed.
"Dual administrative systems (autonomous body and the State Government) cannot function. We have seen for ourselves. Only a separate state can fulfil the aspiration of the Gorkhas" added Rai.
The knee jerk reaction comes on the heels of tweets by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the Darjeeling impasse. Singh on Sunday in a series of tweets stated that he had spoken to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday morning and that she had apprised him of the Darjeeling situation. "All concerned parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment;" "In a democracy like India resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution. Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue;" and "I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calms and peaceful. Nobody should resort to violence."
With GJM closing doors to the State;With centre appealing to the GJM to end the unrest and with the Calcutta High Court labelling the Hills bandh as illegal, there is very little political space for the GJM to retract feel political observers. An all party meeting of pro Gorkhaland forces slated for June 20 could trace the road map to diffuse the ongoing situation opine political pundits.
The 12 hour bandh call in the plains of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar district by the GJM on Sunday evoked mixed response. Amidst heavy police deployment GJM supporters squatted on the road at Dalsingpara area near Jaigaon in the Alipurduar District cutting off landlocked Bhutan.