Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee once again requested parties in Darjeeling Hills to shun violence so that common people could get some respite from the indefinite shutdown that entered its 55th day on Tuesday.
Urging the parties to hold discussions with the state government over its demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland, the CM told the Assembly that schools, offices and tourism have come to a halt due to the bandh in the Hills and the region has suffered a loss of Rs 550 crore. “The total estimated loss, including damage to government property and loss of revenue due to shutdown of tea gardens, tourism and transport in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, amounts to Rs 550 crore,” she said.
Mamata, according to PTI, said that Darjeeling had been a part of West Bengal and she will not allow its division. She added that such agitation in the Hills had become common every 10-15 years, adding that time has come for election to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration as its five-year-term comes to an end.
CPM MLA and Siliguri Mayor Ashok Bhattacharya blamed the state government and Mamata for allegedly trying to make Bengali compulsory in schools of the Hills. “The situation in Hills had worsened after that,” said Bhattacharya. His statement drew flak from Trinamool members who tried to hoot him down, PTI reported.
Mamata, however, praised the Congress for not politicising the issue and criticised the CPM for “fishing in troubled waters”. She also blamed the CPM for misleading the House on the language issue.
After Mamata’s comments, Left Front MLAs walked out of the Assembly. According to PTI, Speaker Biman Banerjee said that by staging a walkout, the CPM and other Left members failed to show political courtesy.
Congress MLA Shankar Malakar said that the time had come for all parties and the central government to arrive at a solution. “It is not the time to point fingers at each other as the situation has worsened,” Malakar said.