KOLKATA

Talks between hill parties and WB govt inconclusive

PTI9_12_2017_000168B West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee meeting with the members of GJM, JAP, GNLF and other Gorkha leaders at Uttarkanya near Siliguri on Tuesday | PTI

The meeting between hill parties and West Bengal government remained inconclusive, with hill parties refusing to withdraw bandhs as of now. The second meeting will be held in October 16.

However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been able to break the GJM by isolating its two most powerful leaders Bimal Gurung and Roshan Giri. Three MLAs, Sarita Rai, Amar Rai and Rohit Sharma, known to be close to Gurung, attended the meeting with disgruntled member Binoy Tamang.

The meeting was also attended by the other parties in the hills like GNLF, ABGL and Jana Andolan Party.

Tamang and others were insistent on a tripartite meeting involving the central government.

“We have requested the chief minister to involve central government in the discussions. It has been deferred to the next meeting on October 16 after festivals,” said Tamang.

The Gorkha parties demanded a high level committee to probe the IED blast in Darjeeling. Also, it demanded freeing of Gorkha party workers lodged in jail, tax break for the hotel industries and waivers for Darjeeling, like important utility bills.

“We wanted to discuss the special statehood for Darjeeling, but since the chief minister was not ready to discuss this, we demanded a tripartite meeting involving central government,” said Harka Bahadur Chetry, chief of JAP. So the bandh will continue for another month.

“I have agreed to hold high level investigation into blasts that took place in the hills and will consider tax breaks, writing to CBSE and ICSE to admit hills students even after deadline,” the chief minister said.

The meeting failed to break the ice as the chief minister, along with other state ministers present in the meeting, vehemently opposed the issue of Gorkhaland. Now, political observers are divided whether Mamata would agree to tripartite talks in order to make the next meeting fruitful.

Some political parties also wanted to extend the meeting to include everyone—like the CPI(M), Congress and BJP.

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