West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday renewed her warning against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha which is spearheading the movement for a separate state of Gorkhaland in Darjeeling.
“They (GJM) are trying to create an ethnic strife in Bengal. This is not right. I don’t discriminate between people in the hills and those in the plains. I believe in working together with everyone. They should not play with fire,” Banerjee told reporters at the Kolkata airport on Monday morning before leaving for a three day official tour of Netherlands.
Mamata’s warning comes at a time when there is no end in sight to the stand-off between the GJM and the state administration with the Morcha insisting only on a central government intervention. On Monday, Morcha supporters once again took out protest rallies across Darjeeling and burnt the chief minister’s effigy.
Slamming the Trinamool Congress supremo, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said, “Mamata Banerjee has called us terrorists. That Gorkha community which is protecting the country at the border with their own lives is being termed as terrorists.”
And while a section of the Morcha leadership has begun questioning alliance partner BJP’s passive response to the separate statehood demand, Giri reiterated that they hope there will be some “concrete step” on the issue but informed that they have not received any assurance yet.
Infact, when asked about the current agitation in Darjeeling, West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh tried distancing his party from the GJM stir. “They are doing protests for their issues. We only have an electoral alliance with them,” Ghosh said.
On Sunday, Morcha leader and Darjeeling MLA Amar Rai had spoken out against local BJP MP SS Ahluwalia for his absence from the hills during this hour of crisis.
“The MP should have been here… everyone feels the same. He should have been here in this hour of crisis. In a way, we are very disappointed,” Rai had told India Today.
Ahluwalia had won the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat in 2014 with the active support of the Morcha. Though he did accompany the GJM delegation which met home minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi this week, he has so far stayed away from his constituency ever since the turmoil broke out.
Meanwhile, the Morcha has called for an all party meeting in Darjeeling on Tuesday to chalk out the future strategy to carry the movement forward. Interestingly, the current agitation has brought all hill based Gorkha political outfits together, including arch rivals Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), an alliance partner of the Trinamool Congress in the state.