GJM leadership hoping for proposal on interim set-up to be accepted

An eight-member delegation will represent the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) at the political-level talks with the Centre and the State government in New Delhi on Thursday, to find ways out of the political impasse arising from the GJM's demand for a separate Gorkhaland State comprising Darjeeling district and certain areas contiguous to it in the plains of north Bengal.

Aware that its demand for Statehood has not evoked a positive response from either the Centre or the West Bengal government, the GJM leadership is hoping that its proposal for an interim administrative set-up for the region in question, made public in Darjeeling on Monday, is accepted.

While the Centre has maintained that there is yet to be a political consensus on the issue, the State government has ruled out the possibility of the creation of a separate State. Major political parties in West Bengal, including those in the Opposition, are also one with the State government on the matter.

Under pressure from its own rank and file and from other regional parties in the Darjeeling hills, the GJM's proposal for an interim set-up that will be valid till December 31, 2011, is being perceived as a means of buying time while ensuring its political dominance in the hills.

Added to this is Subash Ghisingh's recent warning of violence erupting in the hills if the participating sides at the talks settle for anything less than either a separate State or Sixth Schedule status for the region.

Mr. Ghisingh's remarks have not been taken lightly even by the GJM leadership, given that his political supremacy in the hills lasted more than two decades before the GJM came into existence in October 2007.

The GJM leadership has said that its proposal for an interim set-up is in response to a decision taken at an earlier tripartite discussion, when it, along with the State government, suggested an interim arrangement to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. That neither had finalised their views on such an arrangement was pointed out by Union Home Secretary G.K. Pillai at the last round of talks held in Darjeeling on December 21, 2009.

While the GJM leadership has pointed out that its suggestion for an interim set-up in no way dilutes its ultimate demand for Gorkhaland, its proposal has provided the Centre and the West Bengal government some leeway in their attempts to resolve the political gridlock.