Is GJM leadership softening its stand on statehood and warming to the idea of a Union Territory status?

With neither the Centre nor the State government showing signs of initiating a dialogue to break the gridlock arising from its ongoing Gorkhaland agitation, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership indicated on Tuesday that it was mulling over alternatives if its demand for a separate State was not heeded.

 “We will not talk about it now. We will do so later,” GJM president Bimal Gurung told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling when asked what action was being contemplated.

Only hours earlier, he dropped a bomb-shell when he told a private Bengali television channel that a time would come when the GJM would be asking for something other than Gorkhaland, even as he reiterated the need for the Centre’s intervention. 

Mr. Gurung maintained he had no truck with “the Bengal government,” adding that the issue was “not a State matter.”

He has, in recent times, ruled out any discussion with the State government though he hoped that Governor M.K. Narayanan would play a role in ending the stalemate.

 The GJM president’s remark has given rise to speculation on the alternative under consideration.

Could it be that the party leadership is softening its stand on statehood and warming to the idea of Union Territory status for the region instead?  

Or does it have President’s Rule in mind, ask political observers.

Mr. Gurung has minced no words demanding “separation” from West Bengal and there is no hint of the hostility between him and the Trinamool Congress government thawing.

Meanwhile, the Left Front, yet again, underlined the need for talks involving the Centre, the State government and the GJM leadership — the three signatories to the GTA agreement — to break the deadlock.  

“They should give up their inflexible attitudes and head for the discussion table,” said Biman Bose, chairperson of the Left Front committee and State Secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

 Meanwhile, even as the shutdown in the hills continued, Mr. Gurung asserted that students were joining the agitation on their own and it was welcome news to the GJM.