A”confusing” letter purportedly issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, calling for a meeting to review issues related to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in Delhi on 7 August drew flak from various political parties in the Hills.
The letter also led to a blame game of sorts, with most of the leaders maintaining that such tripartite meeting should have been called for a ‘permanent political solution’ for the Hill problems instead.
The letter has been addressed to the West Bengal Home Secretary, Darjeeling District Magistrate and the GTA Principal Secretary. It asks the GTA Principal Secretary to send a letter to the representative of the Chief Executive of the GTA and the Darjeeling DM to send a copy to the representative of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha, without clarifying which Morcha faction it was referring to.
“This letter comes after a delegation of the Morcha (Bimal Gurung camp) met the home minister and said that a tripartite meeting would be convened. The GJMM-1 had claimed that the meeting would be on a permanent political solution, but now through this letter it is clear that the meeting to be held is on GTA. The GJMM-1 had been fooling the people earlier when they accepted the GTA and they seem to be fooling the people again,” said Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Ajoy Edwards.
“Whoever goes to this meeting will be a ‘gaddar’ (betrayer) for this community, as the people here have made it clear that their aspirations will not be fulfilled by the GTA. The GNLF will not allow this and we will come out on the streets,” he said, adding that an alliance with parties that lie and betray would not stand long.
However, giving the Morcha (Gurung camp) and the BJP a benefit of doubt, the GNLF leader sought a clarification on the letter from both the political outfits, further adding that if the meeting to be held on 7 August was just a routine review meeting, then they had nothing to say on that.
On the other hand, the Morcha (Gurung camp) leader, Roshan Giri, also opposed such a letter and said, “We want the people to know that we have continuously been asking the Centre to hold a meeting on the issue of a permanent political solution and not a GTA review meeting. The last review meeting on the GTA was held on 29 July 2015 and after five years there is no need to hold such a meeting.”
“Moreover, the GTA post holders had resigned on 23 June 2017. The BJP, in its manifesto, has also stated that the issue of our party was a permanent political solution and tribal status for 11 communities, and our meeting with the Centre will only be on these two issues. We do not have any concern with the issue in the letter and not attend any such meeting,” Mr Giri added in a press release.
The Morcha’s other faction led by Binoy Tamang also criticised the letter and said that the true mindset of the BJP was clear through it. “The review meeting could be just scheduled meetings held according to the GTA agreement. But what is surprising is that in 2017, the BJP government had asked the agitation to be withdrawn maintaining that a tripartite meeting would be called and now they are calling this meeting,” said the faction’s leader, Keshav Raj Pokhrel.
“The letter clearly shows that the BJP will do nothing and they should apologise to the people, along with their alliance parties here. Our stand is clear that we will attend a tripartite meeting if it is called for a one-point agenda of Gorkhaland. However, our party leaders will discuss this matter,” he said.
Darjeeling’s BJP MP Raju Bista, on the other hand, appealed to all to not get swayed by rumours or speculations. “I have already informed Hon’ble Home Minister that GTA has failed to fulfill the aspirations of the people from Darjeeling hills, Terai and Dooars, and hence for peace, prosperity and progress of our region and its people, it is recommended to initiate political-level tripartite talks for a permanent political solution with the GJMM and all our alliance parties as stakeholders, without any further delay,” he said.
“I request everyone to wait for more clarifications on the nature and purpose of the proposed meeting by the Ministry of Home Affairs to emerge, instead of speculating on its significance and implications,” he added in a release.