Darjeeling, Feb. 11: The president of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has decided to skip the meeting with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Calcutta tomorrow but has lined up a six-member delegation to discuss the six demands of the party.
Morcha vice-president R.P. Waiba, general secretary Roshan Giri, Binay Tamang, Anmole Prasad, Harka Bahadur Chhetri and president of the party’s trade union P.T. Sherpa will leave for Calcutta tomorrow. “The meeting is scheduled to take place at Writers at 5.30pm. We will once again place our charter of six demands,” said Tamang, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha.
Gurung had met Bhattacharjee at Writers’ Buildings on February 4. However, the talks had remained inconclusive with the chief minister refusing to grant permission to hold public meetings in the Dooars and announcing that immediate reopening of the gardens in the region was not a feasible idea.
Although the chief minister is unlikely to give the permission this time as well, there is a possibility that he may give some assurance with regard to the reopening of the gardens. Observers believe that some form of settlement on the gardens can pave the way for lifting the indefinite fast at Gorubathan.
Following the intervention of social activist Medha Patkar and an appeal from governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the Morcha allowed five of those on fast and in critical condition to be taken to the Kalimpong subdivisional hospital for treatment.
Although Gurung is not attending the Calcutta talks tomorrow, Giri said there was a possibility of the Morcha president visiting Lalgarh on February 18 to show solidarity with the tribals, who faced alleged police atrocities. After Medha’s appeal, the Morcha leaders have also expressed their willingness to hold a meeting with the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad, which is opposing the Gorkhaland demand.
Gurung’s decision to stay away has not come as a major surprise. “Some demands like the arrest of Adivasi leaders cannot be fulfilled, as such a move will only escalate the tension. Gurung, too, is aware of the fact, but he has already announced that he would accept nothing less. At this point, it will be difficult for him to backtrack. But the same job can be done by the other central leaders without loss of face,” said a political observer.