The Hills are alive in West Bengal The bifurcation of J&K gives fresh energy to the Gorkhaland agitation

The hill districts of West Bengal are
again in ferment after news came in
about the ‘dilution’ of Article 370
and Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh
becoming Union Territories (UTs).
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha
(GJM), currently the top dog in
the hills, and the rebel faction of
the party led by Binay Tamang,
have cranked up the demand
for Gorkhaland (carved out of
Darjeeling, Kalimpong and parts
of the plains of Terai and Dooars in
West Bengal). They want a separate

state or UT status for the region.
‘Gorkha pride’ was the top concern
of all political parties here,
including the ruling Trinamool
Congress, prior to the 2019
general election. The BJP’s election
manifesto even said the party was
“committed to working towards
finding a permanent political
solution to the issue”.
The GJM, along with other hill
parties like the Gorkha National
Liberation Front (GNLF) and the

Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists
(CPRM), had sent a delegation a fortnight ago
to meet Union MoS for home Nityananda Rai
to discuss the issue. The new developments
in J&K have added impetus to the dem¬ands.
“We want UT status with a legislative assembly
in case statehood cannot be granted,” says
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, currently
an ‘absconder’ along with party president
Bimal Gurung, following the lookout notices
slapped against them by the West Bengal
BJP MP Raju S. Bista, an entrepreneur from
Manipur with RSS links, has been hand-picked
by Gurung to deal with the issue. “We want a
tripartite meeting at the earliest to honour the
sentiments of the Gorkha people. We are being
unnecessarily harassed by the TMC,” says
Bista. He will be meeting Union home minister
Amit Shah soon.
Bista has already reminded the Lok Sabha of
the need for a “permanent solution”. The BJP
has had the support of the hill people (80
per cent are Gorkhas) for three terms now,
beginning 2009, by dangling the carrot of a
separate state. But nothing has happened so
far. Even after the 104-day strike in the hills
in June 2017, there was no firm commitment
from the Centre. Then BJP MP from
Darjeeling, S.S. Ahluwalia, did not even visit
his constituency during the period.
Even after the bitter exp¬er¬ience, the GJM
is hopeful the BJP at the Centre will come
through. “We have no choice. We are fighting
a state government (TMC) which is slapping
false cases against our workers and leaders.
We cannot fight the TMC without the BJP’s
help,” says a GJM leader who refused to be
However, unlike Ahluwalia, Bista is their own
man, a son of the soil and, more importantly,
has Gurung’s backing. Bista has managed to
convince the GJM leaders not to pick up the
gun again. The 2017 agitation, which paralysed
life for more than three months, did not go
down well with the people.
The BJP is in a spot as it also has to counter
the TMC campaign in the rest of Bengal that
the saffron party is out to break up the state.
If the charge gets traction, it could derail
the BJP’s plans to take Bengal in the 2021
assembly election.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More