CPI(M) on Monday said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was “playing with fire” in the way she was tackling the Gorkhaland issue and claimed she was “incapable” of understanding ground realities in some troubled parts of the state.

“It seems she is incapable of understanding the ground realities and the difference between Jangalmahal and the hill areas (of North Bengal). An economic package and some infrastructure development can bring some visible changes in the former, but in Darjeeling, one has to take into account the ethnic factors entwined in the whole issue.

“It seems the Chief Minister is oblivious of it. She is playing with fire. We can only hope that it doesn’t burn her and the rest of the State,” CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and Leader of Opposition in West Bengal Surjya Kanta Mishra said.

He accused Ms. Banerjee of first “playing cosy” with Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for “petty political gains”, then going for a tri-partite accord in July 2011 and “now when GJM ups its demand after Telangana, she gets into a combative mode.”

“This kind of flip-flop will never help. The Chief Minister should have never slammed the doors on dialogue. You can’t abruptly stop talking,” Dr Mishra, who was in New Delhi to attend the CPI(M) Central Committee meeting, said.

He asserted that there was no other way for the state government than to hold a tripartite dialogue with the agitators, involving the Centre.

“Moreover, an all-party meeting on the issue, which we have been demanding for long, should be convened with all stakeholders urgently to discuss the prevailing situation,” he said.

Dr Mishra, whose party has been opposed to the creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland, said it was not a pragmatic idea to have a state where there were only three sub-divisions and not a single district.

“A separate state is never a viable option,” he said while referring to the need for sustaining the economy in the hill region and the strategic importance of Darjeeling vis-a-vis international borders.

“But the Trinamool government as well as the Centre, where the TMC was a coalition partner then, should have understood this before including the word Gorkhaland (in Gorkhaland Territorial Administration or GTA) and acknowledging the demand for a separate state while passing an Act in the Assembly. We had opposed those provisions of GTA Act, but the government was adamant.

“And now, stopping all talks or negotiations with the agitators, the Chief Minister is only stoking fire. The Hills are not smiling back to her,” the CPI(M) leader said.

Regarding the recent panchayat polls in West Bengal, Dr Misra said the Left’s gains, mainly in the gram panchayat and panchayat samiti tiers, were “in those areas where Trinamool had won hands down in 2011 Assembly polls”.

“This will help us to continue our work closely with people,” he said.

On these polls in the Jangalmahal area, he said that in one-third of the total seats, Trinamool Congress won unopposed or rigged the election and even the counting process.

“The results from the remaining two-third seats clearly show that there has been no fundamental shift towards the Left or any other political party,” Dr Mishra acknowledged.

Left Front demands resumption of talks with GJM

The Left Front on Moday said that the West Bengal government should shun its ‘arrogance’ and hold talks with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha for resolving the crisis in Darjeeling.

“The state government should shed its arrogance and take the initiative of bringing the GJM for talks. It is the duty of the state government to bring the GJM to the table for talks,” Left Front chairman Biman Bose said in Kolkata on Moday.

Since the hill council in Darjeeling, Gorkha Territorial Administration, was formed in a tripartite agreement among the West Bengal government, GJM and the Centre, the State could also invite representatives from New Delhi for the talks, Mr. Bose, the state secretary of the CPI(M) told told newsmen in Kolkata.

“If needed, the state should hold a series of discussions.” he said.

Mr. Bose said that the state should do this in the larger interest of the people living in the hills.

“There is not a place for ego fight and priority should be given to restoring peace in the hills,” he said.

Earlier, the State had agreed to hold talks with GJM, but with conditions.