On Gorkhaland demand, she says, “Can Bengal exist without you or can you leave Bengal?”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee reiterated in Darjeeling on Thursday her stand against any division of the State and gave out a stern message to those organising strikes in the region saying that her government was completely opposed to any kind of shutdowns.
“Can Bengal exist without you or can you leave Bengal?” she asked in obvious reference to the demand for a separate State of Gorkhaland.
“I want that all of us should come together and work for the hills. You ask me anything, I will do it but I am not ready to leave Darjeeling,” Ms. Banerjee asserted at the first rally of the Trinamool Congress in the hill town.
In a remark the could be construed as meant for the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the principal political force in the region, she said that the Trinamool Congress had not to come to the hills to quarrel with anyone.
“I am ready to work with everyone. I did not want to promote the Trinamool Congress in the hills because I thought that they [GJM] are there, let them work. I am not enemy to anyone” Ms. Banerjee, said.
The Trinamool Congress’s first political rally in Darjeeling comes nearly a month after the GJM and other pro-Gorkhaland forces have decided to postpone their Statehood agitation and a large number of GJM supporters were arrested and put behind bars.
Even as she dropped ample hints to the GJM (some of whose leaders are scheduled to meet her on Friday), Ms. Banerjee made clear that the State government would not tolerate strikes and shutdowns in the hills.
“There will be no bandh, no strike. This is the policy of the State government and also of the Trinamool Congress”, she said.
“I am ready to sacrifice my life for you but will not allow [anyone] to disturb peace. I want only peace in the hills,” she said, adding that her agenda remains “peace, progress and development” in the hills.
During her speech, she called a leader of government employees unions in the hills on to the stage and gave the assurance that the salary for the period the employees stayed away from work would be paid but they should not indulge in any kind of strike in future.