Darjeeling MP Raju Bista today maintained that he has been pursuing with the Centre the issue of a ‘permanent political solution’ for the Hills, and said that the first step towards that was opening dialogue among the Centre, the state government and stakeholders here. The MP talked with reporters in Darjeeling and Mirik during his visit to these places today.

Commenting on the Union Territories formed in Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh, he said, “The situation was different in Jammu and Kashmir and when the right time for the issue of Darjeeling comes, it will happen. I have already raised this issue in the parliament twice, and with the home minister. There is a right time for everything, and a dialogue should be initiated among the Centre, state, and Gorkha representatives for a permanent political solution, which I have brought to the notice of the home minister as well. We should respect the federal structure, and other alternatives should be looked into if dialogues fail to bring about a solution.”

Maintaining that the GTA was functioning illegally, as there was no elected member there, he said, “Those running the GTA illegally with the TMC (Trinamul Congress) are putting up posters on the issue of Gorkhaland. If you really want that, then you should leave the GTA and dissolve it, and let us work together for a permanent political solution as it will be a big step in that direction. The GTA is an obstacle to it.”

Mr Bista also alleged that there was no democracy in Bengal, with atrocities in the Hills, and due to which the 17 ward councilors who had joined the BJP are not being able to return home, along with the about 5,000 people who had left homes during the 2017 agitation. He said false cases had been slapped on them.

“There is no democracy here, with people slowly losing patience, which the state government should also understand. I have taken up the issue in the Lok Sabha as well, while requesting the home ministry to intervene in the matter either through the state government or the governor,” said Mr Bista.

He also said that they wanted three-tier panchayat elections to be held in the Hills, for which he would work towards an amendment of the constitution.

On the other hand, reacting to the statement of Mr Bista, the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha leader, Binoy Tamang said, “It is a sad thing and a thing of worry for the Gorkhas, the way the Darjeeling MP has given an explanation on the issue of Gorkhaland, when he had promised taking up this issue during the elections. He was given votes for Gorkhaland and not for giving explanations.”

According to Mr Tamang, this is all a conspiracy to make those working for the demand of Gorkhaland feel disappointed.