KOLKATA: The mention of Gorkhaland by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a letter to Darjeeling MP Raju Bista, who had sought protection for Gorkhas in the national capital, has kicked up a row, with West Bengal's ruling TMC seeing in it a "plot" to divide the state.
The BJP, which has emerged as a major political force in the state after the Lok Sabha polls, however, rejected the charge as "baseless".
According to sources in the saffron party, Bista wrote a letter to Shah in July, where he voiced concern over Gorkhas being left out of the purview of the special cell formed by Delhi Police to counter acts of racism, particularly against people from the northeast.
Shah, while replying to Bista's letter, said his concern over the people of "Gorkhaland and Ladakh area" is being looked at.
The use of the word of "Gorkhaland" by Shah drew criticism from the TMC, which accused the Centre and the BJP of plotting to divide the state.
"Why did he use the word Gorkhaland? There is no place called Gorkhaland in the entire area. It seems after dividing Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is planning to bifurcate Bengal. But, as long the TMC is here, nobody can break the state," senior Trinamool Congress leader and minister Gautam Deb said.
Reacting to the TMC's allegation, Bista said the use of the word Gorkhaland has nothing to do with the creation of a separate state.
He said he wrote about the residents of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) - the autonomous body that looks after the development of the Darjeeling hills.
"The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was set up through a tripartite agreement between the TMC government, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), and the Congress government at the Centre in 2011. So, if they can use the word Gorkhaland, why can't we use it to refer to the residents of the area. This is political hypocrisy of the TMC," Bista told PTI.
The development comes against the backdrop of the Centre's decision to revoke provisions of Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir and create two Union Territories (UT) after bifurcating the state.
Several hill parties had demanded UT status for Darjeeling after the Kashmir developments.
Darjeeling has time and again witnessed violent agitations over the demand of a separate state of Gorkhaland, the latest being in June 2017, when the hills witnessed a 104-day strike over statehood.