West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said on Wednesday that there was no alternative to discussions if a solution to the political impasse in the Darjeeling Hills arising from the demand of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for a separate State in the region was to be found.
Speaking at Siliguri in north Bengal, he said: “We want peace in the hills; we want discussions. There is no alternative to discussions for a political solution in the hills.”
The State government had already ruled out any division of the State for the creation of a Gorkhaland as demanded by the Morcha. “There can be no compromise on our demand for Gorkhaland,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling when asked to comment on Mr. Bhattacharjee’s remarks. “We are maintaining peace in the hills but actual peace will prevail only after Statehood is granted to us. That is our one-point demand.”
The GJM leadership is looking forward to the tripartite meeting with representatives of the Central and the State governments to be held on December 21 when it intends to take up the Statehood demand for discussions.
“It should be a political meeting as the issue at hand is political. It should not be held at the level of officials,” Mr. Giri said.
The GJM leadership is demanding the immediate dissolution of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) after which it will specify an alternative set-up for the region during the talks on December 21.
It had been decided at the previous tripartite discussions held in New Delhi on August 11 that an alternative set-up would be finalised through mutual consultation and agreement between the parties concerned. This would necessitate repealing the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Act, 1988.
On whether Jaswant Singh’s expulsion from the BJP would affect the future of the Statehood demand, Mr. Giri said: “Our alliance is with the BJP. Mr Singh’s expulsion will not make much of a difference”
“There are other senior BJP leaders besides Mr. Singh who have been supporting our Gorkhaland cause,” he added.
Mr. Singh was elected MP from the Darjeeling constituency with the support of the GJM in the Lok Sabha polls held earlier this year.