Skip to main content

Darjeeling normalising? West Bengal govt feels "insulted": Rajnath Singh meets person with "shady" background

By Sadhan Mukherjee*
Darjeeling Hills are still burning but there are indications that they are slowly cooling down. The fire is not that intense as before. At the same time, it seems that the union government and the West Bengal government are on different wave lengths for the solution of the problem.
The second round of the all-party meeting took place between the West Bengal government and the various hill parties, including both the fact ions of Gokhaland Mukti Morcha, one led by Binay Tamang and the other by Bimal Gurung. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee accepted a number of demands of the hill parties.
At the same time, she assigned all responsibilities of lifting the bandh on the Binay Tamang group. But after the meet Bimal Gurung asked people to carry on the bandh expressing his dissatisfaction with the outcome of the all-party meet. He in fact wanted the bandh to continue along with the talks.
Binay Tamang has declared that an appeal will be made to all parties to lift the bandh. But the opposition of the Gurung faction creates a genuine apprehension if the bandh can be lifted at all. Binay Tamang of course has declared “no, Talibani fatwah will not work in the hills” . For the two Gurung group MLAs who have come over to his side, Tamang has said, “Hill MLAs came as Morcha representatives; they were not anybody’s personal property.”
The meeting was well attended; the participants more or less accepted that normalisation of hills by lifting the bandh was the main task. The fear of Gurung is also slowly vanishing. The Chief Minister has accepted several demands of Gorkha land morcha that included salary hike, high level enquiry into various issues, and compensation to the families of the dead and injured during the movement, etc. The next meeting will be held on October 16.
The question now is how to lift the bandh. Many hill leaders believe it should be a joint call which can remove the fear of Gurung group’s warnings. If this plan succeeds, it will mean a multiparty democracy in the hills.
In the GTA office, until now only nine persons used to attend. On Wednesday another 13 joined in. The temporary staff will join in on Thursday 14 September. Thirty teachers of the Darjeeling Government College have been brought to Darjeeling. Some school students are also coming; some of them without their school uniforms since parents have asked them not to wear these for now.
To maintain this rhythm and to help normalisation in the hills before the Durga Puja, the state government has announced some specific steps. This includes advance payment if employees join work by September 15, tripartite meeting for the tea gardens, to normalise ration supply in the hills, etc. Some banks have reopened in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
The state government is considering advance payment to staff to some departments. The prolonged bandh and non-payment of salary has emptied coffer of all. An advance payment will help facilitate the reopening of shops.
Some shops on footpaths have already begun to sell goods. Transport has resumed in the main areas of hills. They are moving in convoys of 20 vehicles escorted by police security.
Meanwhile, it seems a double-game is going on. Binay Tamang had announced that as soon as hills become normal, he would go to Delhi to meet the central government. Hearing this Gurung follower Roshan Giri post-haste met home minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday and a picture of that meeting was officially released by the home ministry.
The state government felt humiliated especially due to the fact that a person against whom cases under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are going on, how could the home minister meet him? The state government tried to speak to Singh but could not contact him on phone.
Roshan after the meeting asserted that Bimal Gurung is the sole leader of the hills and warned that any step taken without Gurung will only invite trouble. West Bengal maintains that when hills are getting normalised, why is the centre making the situation complicated and why Rajnath Singh meeting the Gurung faction repeatedly and listening to their plea for tripartite meeting.
No tripartite meeting can be held with out the state government, and why should a tripartite meeting be held now? Above all, West Bengal’s query is, why the Gurung group is being patronised by the centre?
---
*Veteran journalist

Comments

TRENDING

Whistle-blowing IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt's wife suspects foul play after truck hits her car

By Nachiketa Desai*
Paranoia has seized Shweta Bhatt, wife of suspended Indian Police Service (IPS) officer Sanjiv Bhatt, after the car she was driving was rammed in broad day light. According to Shweta Bhatt, it was beacon light-flashing truck without registration number plate. The incident took place on January 7, just a day ahead of the Gujarat High Court was scheduled to take up the bail application of Sanjiv Bhatt, arrested last year for "involvement" in a 23-year-old case.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

Morari Bapu, who has installed new statues of Ram, Laxman, Hanuman without weapons

By Sandeep Pandey*
A saint is one who can give some inner peace by his/her voice. This will happen only when s(he) will talk about love and harmony. Morari Bapu is one saint who has been conveying the message of love, peace, harmony, fraternity, etc. Today when a number of saffron clad figures with aggressive posture, spewing venom, fanning hatred to polarise voters are at the forefront of politics of Hindutva it is a relief to see Morari Bapu in a different mould.

99% MGNREGA funds "exhausted", Govt of India makes no additional sanctions: Study

Counterview Desk
A letter, addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and prepared by senior activists led by Aruna Roy on behalf of the Peoples’ Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), and signed, among others, by 80 members of Parliament, has regretted that, despite repeated public statements by his government promising employment and job creation that will boost the country’s growth, the country’s only employment guarantee programme, Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), “is being systematically undermined.”

Nuclear reactors sought from French giant "not safe": Letter to Modi on Jaitapur project

Counterview Desk
Amidst reports that the French nuclear giant EDF has submitted a “techno-commercial offer” for the world’s largest nuclear power park proposed in Maharashtra’s Jaitapur nuclear power park in Jaitapur on the Maharashtra coast, Dr EAS Sarma, India’s former Union Secretary in the Minister of Power, and an eminent voice in the civil society, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who also heads Department of Atomic Energy (DAE),  protesting the move.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Kerala land being acquired using "draconian, anti-people" National Highway Act, 1956

Counterview Desk
In a letter Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan, senior activists and politicians have insisted that the Kerala government should not agree to "inhuman displacement and buid-operate-transfer (BOT) Toll system", imposed by the Government of India and the National Highway Authority of India, for widening the current National Highway (NH) 66.

Kaiga NPP expansion: Karnataka to get just 400 MW, but lose thick forest, fresh water

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to the chairman and members of the Atomic energy Commission (AEC) on the issue of Kaiga nuclear power plant (NPP) expansion plan in Karnataka, Shankar Sharma, well-known power policy analyst, has argued that that in case of expansion, the site will face “exponential increase in radiation emission risks”, underlining, “Nuclear safety experts identify such a scenario as enhanced risk for NPPs with multiple reactors and shared technical facilities."
Sharma says the questions that also be asked whether Karnataka should lose more than 54 hectares of thick forests and about 152,304 cubic meters of fresh water per day from Kali river for a meager benefit of 400 MW from the Kaiga NPP, for which “there are many benign alternative options available for the state at much lower overall costs to the state.”
Text of the letter: This has reference to the public hearing under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule 2006 of Ministry of Environment, Fore…

Uttarakhand High Court: Biodiversity boards can impose fees on Ramdev's Divya Pharmacy

By Mridhu Tandon
In a significant decision, the Uttarakhand High Court on December 21, 2018 has dismissed the writ petition filed by Divya Pharmacy founded by Baba Ramdev and Acharya Balakrishnan, challenging the demand of the Uttarakhand Biodiversity Board (UBB) imposing fees under the provisions of the Fair and Equitable Benefit Sharing (FEBS).

Modi becoming Prime Minister now appears to be an "accident" to the people of India

By Sandeep Pandey*
Anupam Kher's film 'Accidental Prime Minister' has targeted Dr Manmohan Singh who served for two terms and may be again acceptable for the job if his party regains power. But his tormentor Narendra Modi seems to be out of breath even before his first term is over. Disillusionment with him is so widespread and deep that people of India may not bear with him for another term. As the general elections approach again the difference between the two needs to be examined.