STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE
Kurseong, 5 January
The Gorkha Rashtriya Congress (GRC) president, Mr Nima Lama, said the frequent formation of autonomous bodies and the consequent frustration and unrest over their failure to live up to the collective aspirations of the people in the Darjeeling Hills have made it clear that merging the Hills under Bengal with Sikkim is the only option left. Notably, he has decided to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election from Darjeeling constituency to take the issue of merger straight to the common people in the Hills.
Talking to reporters, he said the people must understand that the merger can alone ensure the Hills’ separation from Bengal. “Hundreds of people sacrificed their lives during the GNLF-led Gorkhaland movement in 1986. But what followed was the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. The same history repeated itself after the GJMM took up the cause. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration resulted from the renewed stir. So it is time to raise pitch for the merger. This is the only way to separate the Hills from the clutches of Bengal,” he said.
He further said the Centre is ready to consider the merger demand if it is backed by the people&’s mandate. “The Centre is not ready to countenance any demand for Gorkhaland. But it is open to the demand of the merger. A team from my party recently met the Union home minister in Delhi. He sounded sympathetic. The Centre would treat it seriously if the people throw their collective weight behind it,” Mr Lama said.
“This is the reason why I have decided to contest the Lok Sabha election from Darjeeling ~ to seek mandate from the people for the demand we have been striving for since long,” he added.