CPRM sees rationale in exclusion – Second largest party in hills wants ‘secret proposal’ to Centre to be made public

The Telegraph
VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, Feb. 3: The CPRM, the second largest party in the Darjeeling hills, today said it was a “rational” thinking on the part of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to exclude those areas in the Dooars and the Terai from Gorkhaland where other communities are in majority.

R.B. Rai, the general secretary of the CPRM and also a former MP from Darjeeling, said: “One has to be rational. We cannot afford to leave out areas where our people are in a majority. However, we must be rational and think twice before demanding places where there is no presence of our people (in Dooars and Terai). We do not think that a Gorkhaland where the Gorkhas are in a minority should be formed.”

The same logic was put forward in the “secret proposal” that Morcha president sent to the Centre recently. The CPRM’s stand was made public after the central committee met in Darjeeling yesterday.

The party, however, said the Morcha should “dare” and make its “proposed set-up” public as early as possible. “The issue of Gorkhaland is related to the political identity of the Indian Gorkhas. The Morcha must let us know whether such a set-up addresses this core issue. If the (Morcha) set-up is in tune with the people’s aspiration, we can think of it otherwise, it is meaningless,” said Rai.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung had earlier said the “set-up proposal” sent to the Centre was supposed to make the statehood demand more palatable. The Morcha leader had also said there would be a slight change in the name of the new state that the party wants (till now it is called Gorkhaland) but in the same breath had re-affirmed that he would not settle for any thing less than statehood. Morcha sources had also said the party was redrawing the map to exclude those areas in the Dooars and Terai where there was no presence of the Gorkhas.

Every since the Morcha indicated that the Gorkhaland map would be redrawn, there have been strong reactions from Gorkhas living in the Dooars who fear that they would be disappointed like they had been in 1988 when the DGHC was formed.

In the 80s, the Gorkhaland agitation under the GNLF headed by Subash Ghisingh had also spread to the Dooars. Despite violent protests from other communities living in the region, the Gorkha population had continued to support Ghisingh. However, when Ghisingh settled for the DGHC in 1988, the entire Dooars and the Terai were excluded and the GNLF virtually stopped all its activities in the region.

It was only after the Morcha was formed in 2007 that a serious campaign was started in the Dooars. Observers believe that the move to “slightly change the name” of Gorkhaland was made to make the statehood demand more inclusive even though the exact nomenclature is not yet known. But the party’s indication that the map of Gorkhaland would be redrawn has made the Gorkhas in the Dooars wary. They fear a rerun of 1988.

The CPRM decision to back the Morcha move is being interpreted as an attempt to act as a responsible Opposition and not merely object to every move for the sake of opposing. “The CPRM is likely to receive much attention after its announcement as it has not only taken into account ground realities but has acted like a responsible Opposition by demanding that the document sent to the Centre be made public for a proper debate,” said an observer.

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