Hours after Bimal Gurung claimed that he was the “chief minister of the hills”, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday accused the GJM chief of indulging in violence because “he could not get enough votes in the civic polls despite bribing people”. Speaking to mediapersons, Mamata said: “I do not think I have to give importance to such comments. He should first answer why arms and bombs were stored in Bhanu Bhavan. He has masterminded everything. I cannot reply to all his questions. The block president of my party is enough to give reply to him.”
“He is doing this because he could not get enough votes in recent civic polls despite bribing people. In Darjeeling, 30 per cent people did not vote for them. In Kalimpong, the combined Opposition vote was more than what GJM received. In Mirik, they lost the civic body to us. They are doing all this because they have received a setback in civic polls. They got scared with the verdict of the people,” she added.
“The situation is peaceful now. We have no words to condemn yesterday’s incident. This shows the political bankruptcy of the agitators. They had stocked arms, bombs and stones before organising the protests. About 60 to 70 policemen were injured. We do not believe in separatist politics and we will not allow anyone to indulge in it. Those who are provoking do not care for the people of the hills,” said Mamata.
Claiming that the people of the hills do not support bandhs, she added: “The previous government had compromised a lot. But there is a limit to everything. They should not cross the Lakshman Rekha. If this is crossed, then law will take its own course.”
The CM also appealed to the Railways to arrange more trains for stranded tourists. “We have requested the Indian Railways to arrange more trains or coaches for tourists who want to return. Similarly, we have requested some airlines to arrange more flights at Bagdogra airport. I have got reports that a large number of tourists are stranded at the airport. If they fail to get tickets, they can take government AC buses, which are available from Siliguri free of cost,” she said. It was later learnt that Air India and Spice Jet will run two additional flights from Kolkata to Bagdogra.
“The bandh failed to impact government offices. In Kalimpong, 99 per cent attendance was registered while in Kurseong, it was 98 per cent. In Darjeeling, the attendance of officials was 99 per cent and in Mirik, it was 100 per cent. Some shops were closed because they were scared that protests could erupt at any moment,” said Mamata. Later, she met IPS officers Javed Shamim, Siddhinath Gupta and Ajay Nanda after they reached Darjeeling.