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Caught in political cleft over Gorkhaland, Trinamool, BJP should know: Nepalese consider Darjeeling theirs

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
Both the TMC and BJP seem to be caught in a political cleft over Gorkhaland. Only a sincere dialogue among the three parties together – BJP, Trinamool and GJM -- can bring a solution to the vexed issue that has grown beyond the control of any one party.
It may still be possible to have a peaceful solution as the condolence marches with the three dead bodies of GJM activists showed. Government allowed the marches without any hindrance and GJM did not take any retaliatory means. Peace prevailed during the marches.
The proposed joint meeting on 22 June called by the Union Home Ministry in Siliguri should break some new ground towards an amicable solution as all three sides seem to realise the gravity of the situation. A pre-requisite for a decent and amicable settlement can only be a ‘give and take’. A rigid stand by any one party can break the talks.
The introduction of Bengali as a compulsory language in all schools of Darjeeling hills area up to 10th standard by the Mamata Banerjee government on 25 May was possibly a well-thought out plan for political one-upmanship by Mamata Banerjee over the BJP. This may have been essentially a scheme to thwart the spread of BJP in West Bengal which was supporting the smaller states concepts and had made steady inroads in West Bengal getting and lending support from and to the Hills people.
Mamata Banerjee had probably calculated that the BJP will be hard put to take a stand on Bengali language or on Gorkhaland, if it at all comes up. If BJP supports the government stand, it will alienate the non-Bengali speaking people whose support is crucial for BJP. It certainly will also not be able to openly support the demand for Gorkhaland. It will be then accused of helping the division of West Bengal and will be eliminated in the next elections from West Bengal. And Mamata Banerjee will emerge as the heroine who fought against the division of West Bengal and won.
The division of West Bengal psychologically is a very potent issue with the Bengalis. From 1905 they have fought against the division of Bengal but despite those efforts they have lost parts of united Bengal and now retain only West Bengal.
The calculations were right up to a point. Mamata perhaps did not correctly estimate the dimension of reaction of non-Bengali speaking hills people and that this would provoke the dormant demand for Gorkhaland to such an extent as is presently seen. She has since made Bengali optional but that step has not scaled down the agitation.
She possibly did not take into account the psychological impact of imposition of Bengali language among the non-Bengali speaking people though she herself takes pride in her own mother tongue – Bengali. Didn’t she march on Rome Streets singing Bengali songs with her entourage while going to take part in Mother Teresa’s canonisation?
Nepal is deemed as the only Hindu Rashtra by the RSS, the political mentor of BJP. There are many RSS followers in Nepal. Like the Akhand Bharat concept of RSS, Nepal for long has harboured the idea of something like Akhand Nepal. The National Anthem of Nepal includes the verse Paschima killa Kangra, purba ma Teesta pugetheu, Kun shaktiko sumamma, kahila kami jhukethu? The verse translates as “Kangra as the western border, Teesta in the East, Nepal has always been a country that has never bowed to any power in the world” (Quoted by Yubaraj Ghimre in Indian Express 19 June, 2017).
One is reminded of the concept of Akhand Bharat propounded by RSS Guru Golwalkar in his Bunch of Thoughts. He said: “The entire Himalayas with all their branches and sub-branches extending to the north, south, east and west, with territories included in these great branches have been ours—not merely the southern lap of the mountains ...Tibet, i.e., Trivistap – now called ‘a Chinese province’ by our leaders!—was the land of gods and the Kailash, the abode of Parameshwara, the Supreme Lord. Manasarovar was another holy centre of pilgrimage looks upon as the source of our scred rivers like Ganga, Sindhu and Brahmaputra.” (Page 82)
He added: “It was this picture of our motherland with the Himalayas dipping its arms in the two seas, at Aryan (Iran) in the west and at Sringapur (Singapore) in the east, with Lanka (Ceylon) as a lotus petal offered at her sacred feet by the southern ocean that was constantly kept radiant in people’s mind for so many thousands of Years.” (page 83)
The trouble is that Nepal under RSS ‘Bunch of Thoughts’ is rendered into a subservient country, as part of Akhand Bharat, not a sovereign entity. This the Nepalese people can never accept. Some of them still dream of “Greater Nepal”. Some not living in Nepal also find affinity with Nepal through their language.
The Nepalese have also not forgotten that Darjeeling was once theirs
 and was taken away by the British. There are a large number of Nepalese speaking people not only in the Darjeeling hill areas but also in Assam, Sikkim, and several other Indian states who came there to work in the tea gardens and in other jobs. Their common link is the Nepalese language. Also for several other hill peoples, Nepalese is the link language. Why should they give up that link and opt for Bengali?
It is clear that for both Trinamool and BJP, it is a piquant situation and a solution brooks no delay.
---
*Veteran journalist

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