Alleging that the BJP has a hand in the Darjeeling violence, a senior West Bengal minister said today that the saffron party had held parleys with GJM leaders in Kolkata a few days before the protest.
“When the chief minister was holding a series of meetings to provide drinking water and other civic amenities to the people of the hills, leaders of GJM were holding parleys with BJP leaders in Kolkata,” Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee told a press conference here.
Asked about GJM chief Bimal Gurung’s demand for the imposition of President’s rule in West Bengal, the minister said, “This again proves he is the voice of the BJP.”
Chatterjee asked state BJP president Dilip Ghosh to rectify his language or otherwise he would face rejection by the people of the state.
“The recent utterances of Dilip Ghosh are similar to the terms used in streets. My request to Dilip babu, please rectify your language. This shows your cultural taste, your use of words. Otherwise you will be totally rejected by the people of the state,” he said.
The minister was referring to Ghosh’s speech at a party meeting yesterday, reported in a section of the press, in which he had allegedly made fun of the chief minister’s “frequent visit to the hills”.
Reacting to Gurung’s provocative assertion that he was the ‘chief minister of the hills’, Chatterjee said, “He is not even capable of becoming a havildar of the hills.”
Chatterjee also trained his gun on other opposition parties, including the CPI(M), and blamed them for neglecting the interest of the hill people in the three-and-a-half decades of its rule.
“Their leaders such as Asok Bhattacharya did not even muster the courage to venture into hills and only talked tall,” he said.
To the allegations of GJM that the government was trying to impose Bengali as compulsory language in schools in the hills, Chatterjee said, “We have repeatedly stressed that Bengali will be an optional language in the hills. There is no ambiguity in that. You all will discover it when the Bill is tabled in the House.”
“Actually they (GJM) are harping on a non-issue since he (Gurung) is losing ground from under his feet,” Chatterjee said.
On West Bengal Governor K N Tripathi telling reporters that he can’t comment on requisition of the Army by the state since he had not been informed about it, Chatterjee said, “I can’t comment on a subject between the Governor and the state of West Bengal.”
The Army today staged flag march in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) observed a 12-hour bandh.
Thousands of tourists are stuck in Darjeeling, which witnessed violence yesterday when GJM supporters clashed with the police and burnt police and government vehicles alleging that the state government was imposing Bengali language in the schools in the hills.