Non-BJP parties slam Centre for 'fuelling speculation' on Gorkhaland ahead of polls

    Kolkata, Oct 7 (PTI) Non-BJP parties in West Bengal on
Wednesday came down heavily on the BJP government at the
Centre for "fuelling speculation" over demands for a separate
Gorkhaland, ahead of assembly polls, and said it was "playing
with fire" to serve vested political interests.
    The BJP, however, dubbed the allegations as "baseless"
and said the central government just wants a "permanent
solution" to the political crisis.
    The Union Home Ministry convened a tripartite meeting
on Wednesday to discuss "issues related to the Gorkhaland
Territorial Administration (GTA)", officials said.
    A delegation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) met
Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy and sought the
creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland, comprising
Darjeeling and its adjoining areas in West Bengal.
    However, no representative of the West Bengal
government attended the meeting.
    GJM (Bimal Gurung faction) working president Lopsang
Lama said the outfit has submitted a memorandum demanding that
Gorkhaland be carved out of Bengal.
    Slamming the Union government's move, the TMC
dispensation in the state asked the central leaders to come
clean on whether they want a "division of the state".
    "Every time we approach an election, the BJP raises
the Gorkhaland issue to create disturbance in the Hills. This
is yet another move. The BJP should come clean on whether they
want a division of the state... They should stop beating
around the bush," Gautam Deb, the state tourism minister and
senior TMC leader from north Bengal, said.
    The Mamata Banerjee-led party also claimed that it was
a just another attempt by the BJP to create "confusion", as
Union Home Minister Amit Shah skipped Wednesday's meeting.
    "Had it been a serious meeting, the Union home
minister would have attended it instead of sending MoS home.
This only reflects that the BJP is trying to create confusion
ahead of polls. Gorkhaland will never happen, as our Chief
Minister Mamata Banerjee has already said," senior TMC leader
Sougato Roy said.
    The opposition Congress and the CPI(M), too, echoed
the TMC and said the saffron camp was trying to fuel a
separatist movement.
    "The BJP is playing with fire to serve its political
interest. Earlier, the TMC did the same thing to come to
power. We feel that there should be autonomy as per
constitutional provisions. But in no way, Bengal should be
divided," CPI(M) leader Sujan Chakraborty said.
    The BJP, however, said the allegations levelled
against it were bereft of truth.
    "We want a permanent political solution to this
crisis, which has been going on for several decades. Neither
the erstwhile Left Front government nor the present TMC
government is interested in a political solution. They want
the problem to linger as it furthers their political agenda,"
BJP state president Dilip Ghosh said.
    The picturesque Darjeeling had time and again
witnessed violent agitation over the demand for a separate
state, the latest being in June 2017, when the Hills saw a
104-day-long strike over the issue.
    The strike also led to a split in the GJM, with Binay
Tamang, once deputy to the outfit's supremo Bimal Gurung,
taking over the reins of the party and expelling the boss.
    Since then the GJM faction led by Gurung had aligned
with the BJP, and the other camp, headed by Tamang, joined
hands with the ruling TMC in the state.
    Anit Thapa, a loyalist of Tamang, is currently the
chairman of the GTA board of administrators.
    "The Centre has called a meeting as assembly polls are
due next year. This is just a political move. Had they been
serious they would have invited us too," Thapa said.
    Assembly elections in Bengal are likely to be held in
April-May next year. PTI PNT

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)