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The Rekindling of Old Flames

Cheif Minister Mamata Banerjee with GJM leaders in Darjeeling

Is the Mamata - GJM friendship back on track?

The Mamata - Morcha friendship seemed to come much closer on the 25th of October as a long meeting between the two dubbed the much hyped meet as successful wherein it was decided that a bipartite meet would be held after the festival of lights. Any talks with the State Government had been ruled out by the Morcha in its latest tirade against the Government earlier. While the bipartite talks would be held in Kolkata, it is expected to be followed by tripartite talks and the three GJM legislators would be heading to Delhi along with the TMC MPs to pressurize the Central Government to release funds to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). “I am happy that the GTA has started functioning. However they will have to elect a new GTA Chief” said the Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee after the meeting. “I have requested them not to indulge in bandhs as it hampers development and creates problems for the common man. Rather we should work together for the benefit of the public,” added the Chief Minister. The development after the meeting however has upped the ante in the hills in the belief that the Mamata - GJM friendship is back on track which had otherwise been testy since last February when the Chief Minister, on her visit to the hills, had openly declared that she can be ‘rough and tough’ if the situation called for it. The CM’s statement was made because of the pro-Gorkhaland slogans at a Government sponsored programme at the Mall in Darjeeling. Following her ‘rough and tough’ comment, the CM last August did really come out tough by destabilizing the Gorkhaland agitation by arresting over 1000 GJM activists including GTA members.

That the Morcha had no option than to revert back to the GTA was evident ever since the Chief Minister visited the hills and the decision not to shut the hills again was a step further in showing that the GJM - Mamata relation is back on track. Observers believed that this was a clear indication of the Morcha - Mamata relationship coming back on track but opined that it could seriously damage the hill TMC unit. The unit has been eyeing the hill support because the present situation and is trying to grab it into its own fold.

The seven member GJM comprises Harka Bahadur Chettri, Dr. Rohit Sharma, Trilok Dewan, Roshan Giri, Col (retd) Ramesh Allay, Jyoti Kumar Rai and PT Ola. “We will elect a full-fledged Chief at the earliest,” added Col (retd.) Ramesh Allay, the acting CEO of the hill body. Development of Darjeeling was discussed in detail in the meeting including the beautification projects and tourism projects. The CM stated that an expert team on tourism will be visiting the hills soon to chalk out plans for effective tourism. “In the winters we will organize a Cultural World Festival in the Hills. I will visit Darjeeling in January” said the CM.

Later, Banerjee also posted in her facebook - “My Darjeeling people are happy. I am also happy. Peace in the hills is my peace. Let the hills always smile.”

Anoop  Rai