Buddhadeb rules out Darjeeling interim council

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

KOLKATA - Categorically ruling out an interim council for Darjeeling and its adjoining areas as demanded by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Tuesday said rural body elections will have to be held first to ascertain the public support for each party in the area.

Speaking at a rally organised by the state’s ruling Left Front in the city hub Metro Channel here, Bhattacharjee slammed the Bimal Gurung-led GJM.

“They say they want a separate state of Gorkhaland… And before statehood is granted, an interim committee will have to be formed composed of their men to run the hill administration, since they have launched the agitation. How can we accept that?

“Elections have not been held there. It is not clear that people want the GJM. This can’t be done in a democracy. We told them to hold rural body polls. Then we could have ascertained which party has public support. They did not agree,” Bhattacharjee said.

Striking a strident posture, the chief minister said he has told the central government about the state’s opposition to Gorkhaland, which the GJM has demanded out of parts of northern West Bengal.

“We have also told Delhi we won’t accept any interim council”.

The chief minister alleged that while discussions were on, the GJM declared that they would close down all government offices in the hills from Dec 6 and bring the three hill sub-divisions to a standstill if the committee was not formed by Dec 20.

“Who will gain if life is halted in the hills? Tourism is the mainstay there. If tourists go, hotels, travel agents, transport operators all benefit,” he said.

Advising the GJM to shun the path it was treading, Bhattacharjee said: “Don’t try to close down government departments. Only the hill people will suffer. The problem in the hills has to be sorted out by holding polls. The rural body elections have to be held first”.

Accusing GJM of having prevented rivals from holding political rallies in the hills in the past, he called it a “dangerous party”.

“They murdered Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) chief Madan Tamang because he had dared to organise a meeting. And now they want us put them in power”.

Coming down heavily on state’s main opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for holding “secret talks” with the GJM leaders during her recent visit to Darjeeling, Bhattacharjee wondered what prompted her to undertake the sudden tour.

“Why did she go? What did she tell them (GJM)? Do you want Darjeeling to be separated from West Bengal? She She is now silent on this issue. Trinamool wants the state to be on fire. This is its nature,” he said at the rally organised on the conclusion of the week-long demonstrations launched by the Left Front at the Metro Channel on various issues.

The chief minister also appealed to the people of the state to say in one voice that they would not let any part of north Bengal to be separated.

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