KOLKATA: The Gorkhaland statehood movement reached a major milestone Tuesday with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) joining hands with its rival and Trinamool Congress (TMC) ally Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and five other parties to work towards a separate state of Gorkhaland.
Never before have the GNLF and the GJM come together on the Gorkhaland statehood movement. And among the six parties now on the separate state movement is the BJP, which rules the Centre.
The party's general secretary Roshan Giri said that all the six parties agreed at a meeting Tuesday that a Gorkhaland state should be created and that a separate statehood movement should be launched from a joint platform. The parties will next meet on June 20.
Apart from the GJM and the GNLF, Tuesday's all-party meeting was attended by the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM), Gorkha Rashtra Nirman Manch, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh and BJP.
The spokesperson for GNLF, Neeraj Zimba said his party would not have any problem with the GJM leading the Gorkhaland movement. All the same, the GNLF submitted a five-point demand to the GJM. One of the five points is that GJM should dissociate itself from the autonomous council Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), which it currently runs.
“Giri said his party will look into our demands,” Zimba said.
Asked whether joining hands with the TMC was a mistake in hindsight, the GNLF spokeman said, “It was the need of the hour then. Now, every demand is dwarfed by the Gorkhaland statehood demand.”
At its formation, the GNLF was led by Subhash Ghising. But the rise of the GJM in 2007 eroded its support base substantially, and the party fought the May 2017 civic elections as a TMC ally, arrayed against the GJM.
The Centre has sought a report from the state government of Mamata Banerjee on the current Darjeeling agitation, based on which it is likely to decide the future course of action.
Sources revealed that after the first violence broke out in the hills on Thursday, Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and asked the Centre to intervene in the situation triggered by Mmata Banerjee's decision to make Bangla compulsory in all schools in the state
On the other hand, Banerjee conducted a meeting at Nabanna with home secretary and director-general of police on how to deal with the Darjeeling bandh.
GJM activists caned
A day after GJM activists allegedly burned down two government offices, police lathi-charged supporters of the party during a march on the district magistrate's office in the Chowk Bazar area of Darjeeling Tuesday.
Police claimed the party had not sought permission for the rally. Several protesters were injured in the lathi-charge.
Meanwhile, the strike called by tea garden workers in the Terai region of north Bengal demanding an increase in daily minimum wages went off peacefully. Vehicles in major parts of north Bengal, including Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri, Islampur Coochbehar remained off the roads while tea gardens continued their strike for the second consecutive day.