After Trinamool Congress’s landslide election victory in West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee faces the Bengal assembly on Monday. While her major electoral plank, Bengal’s crippled economy with a debt of Rs 1.86 lakh crore will be her big worry, another issues that’s been doing rounds is the long pending demand of Gorkhaland.
The resurgent Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) is not going to mellow down by the slew of economic sops that Didi has been quick to announce.
The Gorkhas of Darjeeling, who are ethnic Nepalese, are demanding a separate state of Gorkhaland carved out of the northern Himalayan district of Darjeeling and parts of the foothills under Jalpaiguri district.
“People voted for us with the mandate for Gorkhaland. Gorkhaland is in the hearts of the people,” said Roshan Giri, the General Secretary of the GJM after a meeting with the new CM on Thursday. The party said that it will stick to its demand of Gorkhaland.
After the Thursday meeting, Didi on her part has pledged to find a solution to the Darjeeling problem. But she has consistently maintained that there will be no division of West Bengal.
In the Thursday’s meeting, GJM raised issues like regularisation of the jobs of the DGHC (Darjeeling Hill Council) casual workers, CBI inquiry into the February 8 police firing at Sipchu that killed three of Gorkhaland supporters, release of political Chhatrey Subba, a prime accused in the assassination attempt on GNLF chief Subhash Ghisingh on February 10, 2001 and withdrawal of Ghisingh’s Z-category security.
The Morcha leadership has maintained that their MLAs would resign if their demand for statehood was not met. On Thursday Giri said, “Our MLAs were just sworn in. The new government promises to talk to us. Our demands might be considered. It is too early to think of such drastic measures right away,” Giri said.
It will not be easy for Didi to ‘delay’, ‘avoid’ and finally ‘kill’ the demand of Gorkhaland whose three MLAs support the present government. The 104 year old demand won’t wither away with sops alone since neither GJM nor its supremo Bimal Gurung have any intention of diluting their agenda.
Banerjee has asked Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh to initiate the process of development in the Darjeeling hills in consultation with the GJM. Her approach as of now is to engage the GJM and push development in the Himalayan belt. With the joy of Didi’s single handed victory against the Left settling in, it appears tough time lies ahead for Didi.