Accuses her of using the Lepchas as pawns to scuttle statehood demand

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Tuesday termed the event, organised by a section of the Lepcha community in the hills to felicitate West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, a Trinamool Congress show.

“The Kalimpong programme was to be organised by the Lepcha community, but I was sad to observe that the pandals looked more like a Trinamool show with the use of blue and white [associated with the party]. I have always known that the symbolic colour of the Lepcha community is maroon and not blue,” GJM president Bimal Gurung posted on a social networking site.

“Please, do not change your colours, my dear Lepcha brothers and sisters,’ he said. He accused the Trinamool government of trying to create a rift among the hill people and urged them “not to fall into this trap.”

Mr. Gurung said the only reason Ms. Banerjee insisted on coming to the hills was to divide them. “I leave it to you, my Lepcha brothers and sisters to judge her [Ms. Banerjee’s] intentions,” he said. She is using the members of Lepcha community as “pawns just to deny the hill people their legitimate right.”

“I strongly believe that no matter how hard Bengal tries to divide us, we shall forever remain united for this common cause of Gorkhaland,” Mr. Gurung asserted.

‘No hatred’

He reiterated that the people in the hills “do not have any enmity with the people of the plains or the rest of Bengal,” but their sentiments should be respected so that ties between the two people “can be cemented even further after the formation of Gorkhaland.”

“Gorkhaland is about this distinct identity, separate from the rest of Bengal. Please do not think the demand of Gorkhaland is anti-Bengali or against any community.”

Stating that he was not against the Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board, a board set up for the members of the community, he said the concerns of socio- economic development of the tribe “should not be allowed to be used as a political tool for vested interests.”

He said he was saddened to hear that the Lepchas of Sikkim too participated in the programme and reminded them: “Your government [Sikkim] has already passed a resolution in the Assembly to support the demand of Gorkhaland.”