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Updated: December 14, 2009 01:28 IST

Pranab: it doesn't mean new States elsewhere

Marcus Dam
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Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee
Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee

Even as the renewed agitation by the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) for a separate Gorkhaland State, comprising the Darjeeling hills and certain areas contiguous to it in West Bengal, entered the second day on Saturday, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said that initiating the process for creation of Telangana did not mean new States would be created wherever such a demand was raised elsewhere in the country.

Long agitation

"The agitation for a Telangana State has been going on for 60 years. This does not mean everywhere a new State is to be created," Mr. Mukherjee told journalists at Barasat in North 24 Parganas district referring to agitations for the creation of new States in certain regions.

He said the State government concerned "has to express its view [on the matter] because the President will like to know the view of the State before recommending a Bill to be considered in Parliament. Therefore these steps have to be taken."

"For the formation of every State these are the preliminary things [that need to be done]," he said.

Greater autonomy

The West Bengal government has repeatedly ruled out the creation of a State to be carved out of the Darjeeling hills and has made its views on the matter known to the Centre even earlier.

It has, however, been suggesting to take forward the process of granting greater autonomy to any administrative set-up to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

The situation in the Darjeeling hills was restive with the "fast-unto-death" programme undertaken by groups of GJM activists in support of the statehood demand.

There is some uncertainty over the GJM's participation in the tripartite talks scheduled for December 21. "A final decision on our participation will be formally taken only after the GJM delegation that has gone to New Delhi returns and reports back to our central committee," Amar Lama, central committee member, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

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