KOLKATA, APRIL 14: Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leader Bimal Gurung, who has been on the run since the 2017 agitation in the Hills, has claimed that the BJP leadership gave him assurances that it would look into his statehood demand if it returns to power at the Centre.
Statehood is a dream for every Gorkha living in the Hills, he said, adding that the saffron party’s pitch for a permanent political solution was also “very encouraging.” The BJP, which is eyeing a third straight term in Darjeeling, has made no mention of statehood in its manifesto, but assured a “permanent political solution” in the Hills and scheduled tribe tags for 11 Gorka communities.
“We have sent a memorandum to the BJP, demanding Gorkhaland. They (BJP) have assured us that they will look into it. We are happy that their (BJP’s) manifesto speaks about bringing a permanent solution to the region,” Gurung told PTI in an interview over phone. Lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah for “being sympathetic towards the problems of the Hills”, he alleged that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, on the other hand, has been pursuing “vote-bank politics” to gain her party’s foothold in the region.
“She (Banerjee) has never addressed the real issues here. She is not interested in developing the region,” he claimed, demanding that the Trinmool Congress (TMC) supremo present a white paper on her welfare initiative in the Hills. Asked what he thought about the BJP not taking any measure in the last 5 years to create Gorkhaland, the GJM leader was quick to defend the saffron party, claiming that the “the Narendra Modi Government’s priority was to improve the living standards of people”.
“Gorkhaland tops our agenda and I will keep fighting for it till the end. But the Central Government needs to focus on the overall development of the country first. Everything else is secondary. We are hoping that it (BJP) will look into the Gorkhaland issue in the next term,” he said.
Refuting opposition’s allegation that the sitting BJP MP from Darjeeling, SS Ahluwalia, has done little to develop the Hills, Gurung claimed that the parliamentarian has been trying to work “honestly and sincerely” in the region, but the TMC-led Government in the state thwarted his initiatives. “He (Ahluwalia) had tried to initiate several projects in the region, but the local administration and the state Government did not cooperate with him. This is why utilization certificates were not issued,” Gurung said.
According to records, Ahluwalia has utilized 56.30% of the allotted MPLAD funds.
People have not forgotten the atrocities committed by the TMC during the 104-day-long agitation over statehood demand in 2017, Gurung claimed. “The voters in the Hills are with Modiji. This time, we have urged them to vote against every bullet fired by the TMC during the Gorkhaland agitation. This election is a fight for restoration of democracy,” he asserted. (Courtesy: The Hindu)