Congress opposes Gorkhaland demand, wants all-party talks

June 12th, 2008 - 1:10 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, June 11 (IANS) The Congress party in West Bengal Wednesday opposed the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state, but sought that Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee convene an all-party meet to evolve a consensus to tackle the fresh flare-up in the Darjeeling hills. “Buddhadeb must share with us what transpired during his recent discussions with the hill leaders. The state assembly session begins next month. The government should hold an all-party meeting to discuss the situation threadbare so that the parties can take a joint stand on the floor of the house,” West Bengal Pradesh Congress president Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi told reporters.

Holding the policies of the state’s Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front government responsible for the renewed unrest in the north Bengal hills, Dasmunsi also expressed his party’s opposition to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM)-sponsored indefinite shutdown. The strike has brought life to a standstill in Darjeeling and inconvenienced thousands of tourists.

“I would like to make it clear that we are opposed to any division of West Bengal. No state can be carved out of the Darjeeling hills. We are also opposed to the GJM-sponsored inhuman shutdown, which has put tourists in great difficulty,” he said.

He appealed to the GJM and the leadership in the hills to withdraw the shutdown and come to the discussion table. “At the same time, the chief minister should also persuade the GJM to sit for talks,” he said.

Tea gardens were closed as normal life continued to be paralysed in the Darjeeling hills Wednesday, the second day of the indefinite shutdown called by GJM to press its demand for a separate Gorkhaland state.

Accusing the CPI-M of double-speak, the Congress leader said while Bhattacharjee was talking of a dialogue with the GJM, the chief minister’s party comrades continued to make provocative comments.

“Divisive forces have become active because of the CPI-M misrule, their short-sighted policies and failures on the economic front. The chief minister never tried to take the opposition parties into confidence,” Dasmunshi said.

He said the state government had failed to gauge the ground situation before asking the central government to confer the Sixth Schedule status on the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)-led Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

The Sixth Schedule status ensures greater autonomy for the district’s governing body, but GJM - spearheaded by Bimal Gurung - opposed the move and unseated GNLF supremo Subash Ghisingh from power.

The DGHC was formed in 1988 through an agreement between the central and state governments and the GNLF after the hills witnessed violence for about two years over the Gorkhaland demand.

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