After negotiations spreading over 15 months and more and meetings with some senior Congress leaders, Darjeeling MP and senior BJP leader Jaswant Singh on Saturday said talks on the Gorkhaland issue were moving in a “satisfactory direction” and he was optimistic of a positive outcome.
Flanked by leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Mr. Singh told journalists that he was convinced that an early resolution of the issue would be in the national interest. He noted that the area around Darjeeling borders four different countries, including China, and finding a solution to the 103-year-old demand for Gorkhaland was of “very high national importance.”
The GJMM had agreed to defer its agitational plan that included the call for a 48-hour bandh in Darjeeling and surrounding areas that was to take place in a few days from now. A delegation of the GJMM, including its president Bimal Gurung, has been here for the last few days.
It had met senior Congress leader and chief troubleshooter for the government Pranab Mukherjee, who had requested them to defer their agitation plan as talks were going on. On Friday, the delegation members also had a meeting with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, said Mr. Singh. He added he was “satisfied” with the talks and was optimistic of an early resolution of the problem.
Mr. Singh said he viewed the Gorkhaland demand as one that would “bind” rather than “divide” (‘yeh sawal jodne ka hai todne ka nahin' – it is question of binding people together, not dividing them). And Mr. Gurung said his group's demands were within the framework of the Constitution and it did not want to indulge in anything that could only be used by its detractors for creating mischief. “We [Gorkhas] have shed a lot of blood for the country ... our demand is linked to our identity.”
In response to questions, Mr. Singh said the press should not take for granted that his own party, the BJP, or the Congress or even the Left would continue to oppose the Gorkhaland demand. While he did not spell out concretely where the talks were placed, he said they were “delicately poised.” He also suggested that some resolution could be in sight even “before the Assembly polls” due in West Bengal in about four to five months.
“There is every indication that the talks are moving in the right direction. We have no indication that they will fall flat,” Mr. Singh said.
Keywords: Gorkhaland issue