Ahead of the West Bengal Assembly polls next year, a delegation from north Bengal met G Kishan Reddy, the Union Minister of State (MoS) for Home Affairs, to discuss the issue of Gorkhaland. While sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said the meeting was called to discuss developmental issues related to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), members of the delegation said they only discussed the political issue of Gorkhaland.
The seven-member delegation was led by Lopsang Yolmo Lama, working president of the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha (GJM). The meeting was also attended by Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and other MHA officials.
“The delegation raised the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland and grant of Scheduled Tribe status to 11 Gorkha sub-communities. When the issue of Gorkhaland Territorial administration was raised, the GJM delegation submitted that the delegation was there to discuss the statehood demand and grant of Scheduled Tribe status and not the GTA since the Memorandum of Agreement signed between the Union of India, Government of West Bengal and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in 2011 was not honoured by the state of West Bengal,” Lama said.
The GJM working president said the delegation submitted a detailed memorandum regarding “irregularities, interferences and obstacles committed by the state government” rendering the GTA defunct. He said all the elected members of the GTA had resigned en masse in 2017.
“The GJM delegation further submitted on the issue of Gorkhaland being the oldest statehood demand in India and presented various materials supporting the said demand,” Lama said, adding that Reddy gave the delegation a patient hearing and assured them that the government will consider everything presented before it and announce the next meeting after briefing Home Minister Amit Shah.
Officials from the government of West Bengal had also been invited but they did not attend the meeting, sources said.
Criticising the Centre’s decision to call the meeting, senior TMC leader Goutam Deb had said it was an attempt to divide the state ahead of next year’s elections. “The BJP is trying to divide the state ahead of 2021 Assembly polls. We will never let anyone divide the state. We will stop BJP’s conspiracy at any cost.”
The BJP said it wants a permanent solution to the Gorkhaland issue. “The BJP does not want a division of the state. We want to find a permanent political solution,” state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu told the Indian Express ahead of the meeting.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines