Gorkhaland demand uphill task for national parties, Left to Right

The GJM, spearheading the agitation against what it calls imposition of Bengali on people in the Hills, is now mobilising support for a separate Gorkhaland.

Written by Ravik Bhattacharya , Liz Mathew | Darjeeling/new Delhi | Updated: June 15, 2017 8:06 am
Darjeeling, gorkhaland, gjm, Darjeeling gorkhaland, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, darjeeling unrest, gorkha agitation, Gorkhaland demands, darjeeling hill, west bengal news, india news, darjeeling news Police clash with protesters at Chowk Bazaar in Darjeeling on Tuesday. (Source: Partha Paul)

The revival of the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland has put mainstream national parties in a fix with their units in the Darjeeling Hills breaking ranks with their own leadership in West Bengal, and backing calls by the hill parties. The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), spearheading the agitation against what it calls imposition of Bengali on people in the Hills, is now mobilising support for a separate Gorkhaland. This has prompted Union Minister and BJP’s Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia to ask the Union Home Ministry to appoint a committee of experts to look into the demand.

The Congress and the Left, who are opposed to idea of carving out a state from West Bengal, are also finding it increasingly difficult to stand with the people of the Hills where sentiments are running high, especially on the issue of Gorkhaland. ALSO READ: Politics of language: As old as the hills, now new trigger for statehood stir

Neither do these two parties want to be seen aligning with the ruling Trinamool Congress — they are already blaming Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for raking up the issue three Left to Right, demand for Gorkhaland uphill for national parties decades after the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) led a violent movement for a separate state.

Sources in the government said Ahluwalia held meetings with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi between June 8 and 11. According to sources, Ahluwalia, in a letter to the Home Minister, wanted the government to constitute a committee of experts to look into the merits and demerits of the demand for a separate state, even consider the demands of Gorkhas, Adivasis and others including Rajbongshis.

He also wants Mamata Banerjee to withdraw her government’s move to make teaching of Bengali mandatory in all government schools across the state.

Ahluwalia is the first BJP leader to take a step forward in the demand for Gorkhaland. The party’s West Bengal unit is, however, opposed to the idea of a separate state. Former state unit president Rahul Sinha and current president Dilip Ghosh have refused to back the demand.

Ghosh said: “We will not allow Bengal to be divided. Nor do we support a violent agitation in the Hills. It is for the Centre to find a solution to the problem. We are against atrocities committed on the people of the Hills by the state government.”

But in the Hills, BJP members think otherwise. “I am a Gorkha first and then comes my party. I was sent by my party leader. We were invited to the all-party meeting called by the GJM. We will shortly have a meeting in the Hills and it will be clear to you,” Suman Sharma, an office-bearer of the BJP Hill Committee, said.

In a dilemma, the BJP central leadership is taking the middle path. Party national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said: “Our stand is that there should be discussion over the demand. In a democracy, people and groups have the right to demand and there has to be a discussion. The state government cannot impose its decisions without taking Gorkhas into confidence…. Force should not be used in Darjeeling. However, for a separate state, the area is too small.”

Sources said that the BJP, which has been an ally of the GJM since 2007, does not want to be seen opposing it. At the same time, the party, which is trying to emerge as an Opposition in West Bengal, does not want to invite the ire of people in the plains.

The CPM has chosen to blame Mamata Banerjee for the situation. “We oppose Gorkhaland and division of states. This is our principle. During Left Front rule, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council was formed, putting away Gorkhaland. After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee brought it back. Her understanding with (GJM chief Bimal) Gurung is over,” CPM Lok Sabha MP Md Salim said.

The Congress too is blaming the Chief Minister. “We are against Gorkhaland, but we are also against atrocities committed by the state government in the Hills. Mamata Banerjee’s decision to hold a cabinet meeting there and her threatening speeches later allowed Bimal Gurung to start the agitation again for a separate state,” Abdul Mannan, leader of the Congress legislature party, said.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App

  1. S
    Jun 25, 2017 at 11:06 am
    Max gorkha population lives in North East India and not in Bengal. ..only 15 of Indian gorkha lives in Bengal. Why are they protesting in Bengal ..... sikkimAssam and others have over 60 of gorkha population.
    1. B
      Bipen Chettri
      Jun 16, 2017 at 1:43 am
      Darjeeling is not the part of west Bengal and secondly the area of Gor nd is bigger then the state of Sikkim and Goa. lack of historic knowledge, I applied to the leaders of CPM, TMC, Congress and BJP to read the history of Darjeeling first.
      1. S
        Jun 25, 2017 at 11:07 am
        Max gorkha population lives in North East India and not in Bengal. ..only 15 of Indian gorkha lives in Bengal. Why are they protesting in Bengal ..... sikkimAssam and others have over 60 of gorkha population.
      2. N
        Jun 15, 2017 at 5:08 pm
        Albeit, the lack of knowledge on the issue, one feels that smaller the state, better is the scope for good administration and development.
        1. S
          Sharad Gokhale
          Jun 15, 2017 at 2:53 pm
          Indian PM Modiji has Enormous Responsibility Ahead He will Meet it Excellently. - Sharad Gokhale, Sydney, 15.06.2017 Indian PM Narendra Modiji has Enormous Responsibility Ahead He Will Meet It Excellently Honourable Narendra Modiji, India’s PM and Global Diplomat Par Excellence, I wish You Really Have an Excellent Meeting with the ‘Youngish’ US President Donald Trump and Make him fully Understand Follow Responsibly the ‘Paris Agreement on Climate Change’ and Act Wisely Soon Accordingly thereby Bene ing the World. From: Sharad Gokhale, Sydney, 15.06.2017
          1. U
            Uday Yadav
            Jun 15, 2017 at 1:52 pm
            Mamata Jihadi is not a Bengali, she is a fanatical Bengalistani! She loves Bangladeshi mullahs and invites and commits atrocities on Gorkhas simply because they are not Mullahs and love their language! Bengalis are Indians first, Bengalis second. Bengalistanis are Bengalis first Indian second! Shame on Mamta Bengalistani!!
            1. V
              Jun 15, 2017 at 10:17 am
              These goons demanding a state are all illegal immigrants from Nepal - like the bangladeshis , these nepali-gorkha demands are illegal , they can go back to nepal if they want a land.
              1. K
                Jun 15, 2017 at 12:22 pm
                This is our land....n check history n comment....i m sure Ur also an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh...
                1. M
                  Jun 15, 2017 at 1:59 pm
                  Dear Sir, Darjeeling was carved out of the kingdom of Sikkim by your former colonial masters (and Kalimpong from Bhutan), not from Bengal or India, they added it to India (without asking permission to anybody), and brought in (following due legal processes) Nepalese mainly for two purposes: tea plantations and providing soldiers ... so the Hills' people are certainly not "illegal immigrants" . BTW during British raj, these area were under "inner line" that is of restricted access even to Indians.
                  1. B
                    Bipen Chettri
                    Jun 16, 2017 at 1:46 am
                    Can you show me Indian in India?
                    1. S
                      Jun 16, 2017 at 6:55 pm
                      Read Mark's post second below. Don't say anything if you know nothing. Don't expose your ignorance. And read some history books.
                    2. R
                      Jun 15, 2017 at 9:44 am
                      The communist notoriety is exposed again. When the Jadav Univ jokers were shouting for Kashmirs azadi they have put their dirty hands inside their mouth to utter a word fir the Gorkhalis. Gorkhas deserves to govern themselves.
                      1. P
                        proud to be gorkha
                        Jun 15, 2017 at 12:02 pm
                        tora chala jaan amra bengali
                      2. I
                        Jun 15, 2017 at 9:43 am
                        Jehadi Mamata Banerjee wants to divide India. Her Islamic nature is exposed.
                        1. Load More Comments