Trouble is brewing in North Bengal with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) set to revive its agitation for a separate Gorkhaland state in Darjeeling and surrounding areas.
Leaders of the Morcha — an ally of the BJP — are soon likely to resign from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), a semi-autonomous administrative body in the hills, which is at present under the control of the GJM.
The hill party chief, Bimal Gurung, was quoted by PTI, saying: “In the next few days the Gorkhaland movement will start. The people of the hills are still with the GJM. We are unitedly fighting for Gorkhaland.”
Following Trinamool Congress’ recent victory in the Mirik municipal polls, the party is looking for its share of political space in the hills, where GJM had till now ruled supreme.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to hold her first cabinet meeting in Darjeeling Thursday.
“We have met the Governor (Keshari Nath Tripathi). We have also met state BJP leaders in Kolkata. We have informed them about the situation in the hills and will intensify our movement for Gorkhaland,” said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri.
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh, after his meeting with GJM leaders in Kolkata on Wednesday, said: “The GJM leadership is unhappy with the state government. They said the state government has failed to keep its promise and the GTA has become powerless in undertaking developmental work. They have told us that soon, they will resign from the GTA and re-launch the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland. They feel cheated.”
“We are with the GJM. However, the issue of a separate state is a matter (to be decided) by the central government,” he added.
Besides Giri, the delegation that met Ghosh included MLAs Sarita Rai (Kalimpong), Amar Singh Rai (Darjeeling) and Rohit Sharma (Kurseong) and GJM central committee member Swaraj Thapa.
The GTA agreement was signed between the GJM and the state government in July 18, 2011. In July 2012, elections to 45 constituencies in the hills were swept by the hill party. Recently, trouble broke out in the hills after Mamata made Bengali compulsory from Class I to X in schools. The GJM is against the move.
BJP state secretary Sayantan Basu said: “We feel that one should study the Bengali language in Bengal. But it should not be forcibly imposed.”
On Monday, Mamata — now camping in the hills — had announced several development initiatives for the region and an audit of GTA funds, further antagonising the Morcha.