The Trinamool Congress and West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) on Thursday declared that they wanted the development of the hilly areas in the northern part of West Bengal, but while keeping the State undivided.

This is the first such joint statement issued by the alliance partners in West Bengal on the Gorkhaland issue since the agitation for a separate State was spearheaded by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha last year.

The declaration came following a meeting between Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee and three senior WBPCC leaders at Ms. Banerjee’s residence here. Issues like seat-sharing in the forthcoming municipal elections and the current political situation in the State were also discussed.

Addressing journalists after the meeting, Ms. Banerjee said: “We believe that development of the region is absolutely necessary by keeping Bengal undivided…we wanted to share our views with our alliance partners in the State before we expressed it to the Centre.”

WBPCC working president Pradip Bhattacharya was present at the meeting and said his party shared Trinamool’s view.

Ms. Banerjee said that a delegation of the Trinamool Congress and WBPCC members will meet the Governor soon and discuss the current political situation in the State.

Talking about seat-sharing, she said the emphasis should be on “strengthening the alliance.”

“We need to work together to make the alliance stronger. It [the municipal elections] is a small issue and as independent parties, both the Trinamool and the Congress, are capable of taking their decisions.”

Echoing her words, Mr. Bhattacharya said more such meetings were necessary as they provide a platform for the convergence of mindsets of the two parties.

When asked if the mayoral candidate for the municipal elections has been finalised, he answered in the negative.

The meeting took place in the backdrop of an unannounced meeting between Ms. Banerjee and WBPCC leader Subrata Mukherjee, (earlier with the Trinamool, but later joined the Congress due to differences with Ms. Banerjee). The meeting, held at Ms Banerjee’s house, triggered speculation that Mr. Mukherjee was seeking a re-entry to the Trinamool. Mr. Mukherjee was also present at Thursday meeting.