KOLKATA: With Mamata Banerjee taking an aggressive stand on the Gorkhaland statehood demand by calling the agitators ‘terrorists’ and vowing to prevent the separate statehood ‘till her last breath’ and
the BJP, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s (GJM) ally, distancing itself from the demand, the road is long for the agitators and negotiations on the demand highly unlikely in the current scenario.
“We only have electoral ties with GJM. We are separate parties with separate agendas which do not coincide,” senior BJP leader Rahul Sinha told New Indian Express. “Mamata Banerjee set fire in the
hills. She only has to douse it.
However, we will extend all support needed to bring back peace to the hills. We want the State government to shun its violent posture and come for negotiation to bring peace in the hills,” he added.
While the hill unit of the BJP will take part in an all-party meeting on Gorkhaland on June 20, the hill unit of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) will stay away, literally making negotiations impossible.
“We will not take part in the all-party meeting. The hills TMC does not support the Gorkhaland demand. If the BJP is so serious about the creation of Gorkhaland, why don’t they pass in Parliament and grant Gorkhaland state?” Trinamool Congress (Hills) president Rajen Mukhia told New Indian Express.
However, the Bengal BJP now says that it never supported the statehood issue. “When candidature of Jaswant Singh for the Darjeeling MP seat was finalised in 2009, BJP said ‘we shall sympathetically
consider the problem of Darjeeling’. However, other than Vidarbha, we don’t support any other statehood demands including Gorkhaland and Bodoland,” Bengal BJP secretary Sayantan Basu told New Indian Express. He added that treating Gorkhaland supporters like terrorists of Kashmir or Northeast may boomerang. “Their demand is not anti-national. Treating them like terrorists would be a grave mistake,” he added.
With West Bengal going to panchayat polls in May 2018, party insiders said the Bengal BJP is not really willing to jeopardise its growing power base in the plains by supporting the statehood demand in the hills, where it doesn't really have a strong organisational base.
On the other hand, the CM is trying to break the Gorkhaland agitation with the help of the chiefs of 17 ethnic development boards that she formed over the past six years. She had summoned them to
Kolkata on Saturday. According to sources in State secretariat Nabanna, the development board chiefs were asked to rally their support bases against GJM and the statehood demand. She also hinted at stopping supply of essential commodities, including food rations, to the hills from the plains near Siliguri to break the backbone of the statehood movement. “If the situation continues like this, it would be difficult to transport ration and essential commodities,” she had said at a press conference on Saturday.