“What happened to Manmohan’s assurance on keeping State in the loop?”

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday took strong exception to the recent meeting between Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-led Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC) in New Delhi earlier this week. 

The GJAC is steering the on-going Gorkhaland agitation in the Darjeeling hills.

“How could the meeting in the capital have taken place despite a recent assurance from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter that there could be no talks on the Darjeeling developments without the State government being informed?” Ms. Banerjee asked.  

“The talks were held the same day I was at an event in the hills…They [GJM] had brought oxygen from Delhi,” she said.

Criticising the Centre’s move, she said if the Congress was engaging in political vendetta against the Trinamool Congress for just one Lok Sabha seat, the people of the Bengal would fight against it every inch of the way.

Ms. Banerjee had earlier accused the Congress as well as the Bharatiya Janata Party of stirring up trouble in the hills for electoral gains. 

“The Centre has its own jurisdiction just as the State. None should cross its respective jurisdiction,” she said.

Without naming the GJM, Ms. Banerjee said that hooliganism was no solution to any problem and nothing would be achieved through force. 

On the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) meeting that fell flat in Darjeeling on Wednesday, Ms. Banerjee said that those who came for the meeting had sought an arrangement for those who were arrested to cast their votes. 

The meeting was called to elect a new chief executive for the body, a post that fell vacant after GJM president Bimal Gurung resigned to spearhead the Gorkhaland movement. 

Ms. Banerjee said that voting rights could be exercised from prison also. 

“I want to ensure that the people in the hills remain happy and that there will be no division of Bengal,” she said.