Centre agrees to meeting with the Bengal government and the GJM

For the first time since the on-going Gorkhaland agitation began more than a month ago in the wake of the Centre’s decision to grant Statehood to Telangana, a window for hope opened on Tuesday of a breakthrough in the political impasse that has resulted in the continuing shutdown in the Darjeeling hills.

“We hope that the Centre will find a solution soon,” Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over the telephone from New Delhi shortly after being assured by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde that the Centre is agreeable to a meeting with the West Bengal government and the GJM.

Mr. Shinde, who met leaders of the GJM-led Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC) that is steering the Gorkhaland agitation, also appealed to them to call off the stir that began in the Darjeeling hills late in July and has since had only brief interludes of relaxation. Withdrawing the stir would be a preparatory step for the meeting between the sides concerned.

“The GJAC will meet soon and take appropriate action but the movement for Gorkhaland will continue,” said GJM president Bimal Gurung in Darjeeling.

What emerged from a meeting, which the GJM has been seeking for the past weeks, was the likelihood of the on-going agitation being called off, although Mr. Gurung maintains that the movement for a separate State would continue.

Co-incidentally, the meeting was held around the same time Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was delivering a hard-hitting speech against those behind the Gorkhaland agitation at an event organised by the Lepcha community in Kalimpong in Darjeeling district.

Relations between the GJM leadership and Ms. Banerjee have sunk to new depths recently over the Gorkhaland issue with neither side willing to budge from their respective stands. The Centre’s move regarding the creation of Telangana has only made the GJM’s call for a separate State more strident, even as Ms. Banerjee ruled out any division of West Bengal.

Mr. Gurung has also maintained that there can be no bilateral talks with the State government; nothing short of Central intervention can help breaking the political gridlock arising from the renewed Statehood demand. He had also sought the mediation in this regard of the Governor M.K. Narayanan who, too, was recently in New Delhi.