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No end to Darjeeling crisis: parties skip all-party meet due to Mamata's absence

Sulagna Sengupta | Updated on: 22 June 2017, 2:14 IST
(Diptendu Dutta/AFP)

 

Even as the crisis in the Darjeeling hills continues, the political parties in West Bengal are struggling to gather on the same table.

 

On one hand the All India Trinamool Congress and the CPI(M) abstained from the all party meeting called by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. On the other hand the BJP and Congress have decided to keep away from the all party meeting in Siliguri on Thursday.

 

Congress leader Abdul Mannan said that it is not correct to conduct the party meeting when the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is away in Netherlands.

 

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh accused the government of being dictatorial. “If Banerjee is not present at the meeting , it is just an eyewash,” he said.

 

During the GJM meeting, Gorkha Parties such as the Jan Andolan Party of Harka Bahadur Chhetri urged GJM to withdraw their strike and adopt a non-violent and democratic path for Gorkhaland. It urged GJM to speak to the Centre in this regard.

 

“We are in support of Gorkhaland and we have urged GJM to withdraw their strike and follow democratic means,” Chhetri said.

 

But GJM chief Bimal Gurung did not relent. “We can only withdraw our strike once police excesses are reduced in the hills and normalcy can be restored. Otherwise the strike will be indefinite,” he said.

 

At the all party meeting in the hills, it was decided that GJM will come out of the Gorkha Terretorial Administration (GTA) and focus on fighting for Gorkhaland. Meanwhile the report on the alleged irregularities in the GTA was presented to Chief Minister's Office on Tuesday.

 

“A committee has been formed to conduct physical audit of GTA,” a senior official disclosed

 

On Tuesday, a GJM rushed to Gangtok meet Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State for Home to apprise him of the the current situation in the hills and place their demand for a separate state. However Rijiju did not meet with the delegation.

 

The indefinite strike called by the GJM in the hills has left tourists stranded and even locals are finding it difficult now. There is a scarcity of water and food. JAP leaders warned that the situation may worsen if GJM doesn't withdraw the strike. Students at several boarding schools in the hills are also stranded and schools have urged the state government to help students reach the plains.

 

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury blamed Banerjee for the mess. “The entire crisis was created by the CM because of the decision to make Bengali compulsory. Even though it was withdrawn, the damage was done,” he said.

 

 

Mohammad Salim too blamed the state government while conveying his party's decision to keep away from the all party meeting. Interestingly, it was CPI(M) leader Biman Bose who demanded such a meeting in the first place.

 

Meanwhile Darjeeling MP, SS Ahluwalia of BJP, said the state government is to blame for the intelligence failure that caused the violence to spiral in the hills.

 

“We don't support the CM's statement that terrorist outfits from the North East are helping Gorkha outfits. If such incidents are happening, then state government should have intimated the Center earlier and an internal border security meeting should have beeen convened”.

 

Ahluwalia demanded an inquiry into the deaths of GJM supporters allegedly due to police firing.

 

However Goutam Deb, minister in charge for the North Bengal Development Department said “ BJP is confused about its stand on Gorkhaland. I urge Ahluwalia to clarify his party's stand before commenting on the issue”.

 

First published: 22 June 2017, 2:14 IST
 
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