Darjeeling, Sept. 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said Mamata Banerjee’s visit had been “mutually beneficial” and her proposal to set up a secretariat in the hills was on the lines of the party’s demand for an interim set-up for the region.
Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the spokesperson for the Morcha, today said: “The visit has been mutually beneficial. The message is we are ready to welcome any leader willing to listen to us. This also proves that our agitation is not against any community.”
Chhetri said Mamata, too, would benefit from the visit as she was able to come to Darjeeling where no Left Front leaders had dared to in recent times, hinting that it would be a slap on the face of her arch rival, the CPM. The Left party is also the bete noire of the Morcha, which had once forced the CPM to cancel a meeting in Darjeeling that chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was supposed to attend in November 2007.
On the proposal for a secretariat in Darjeeling, Chhetri said: “The offer for a secretariat is on the lines of our demand for an interim set-up. If our people do not have to travel far to get their problems addressed it will definitely do us good.”
As expected, the Morcha refused to accept that Gorkhaland could not be achieved. When reminded that Mamata had underlined her stand to keep the state united, Chhetri said: “The success of the demand (for statehood) will depend on our agitation and not on who is supporting us or not. The demand is legitimate and it is achievable.”
Roshan Giri, general secretary of the Morcha, thanked Mamata for the railway initiatives she announced yesterday. “She has agreed to all our demands. But we want speedy implementation of the projects or else, it would be another betrayal. However, we are hopeful that Mamata will keep her promises.”
On the Morcha’s decision to skirt the Gorkhaland issue during the meeting with Mamata, Chhetri said: “She had visited Darjeeling as a Union minister and we were more concerned about including Darjeeling in India’s railway map.”
Giri also said that Thursday’s tripartite talks have been postponed. “The meeting is being postponed for a few days because of a reshuffle in the state’s bureaucracy,” the Morcha leader said.
The Morcha today lifted the indefinite fast after requests from Nickole Tamang’s mother and wife. Seven Yuva Morcha activists had been on fast from September 17 demanding that Nickole, a prime accused in the Madan Tamang murder, be produced alive in court.
Nickole allegedly fled CID custody on August 22. The Morcha has alleged that he had died in custody.