Telangana Bill makes GJM hopeful of Gorkhaland

Besides celebration in Telangana, the Lok Sabha clearance of the Telangana Bill has raised hopes of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s quest to secure Gorkhaland state from West Bengal.

However, despite GJM president Bimal Gurung’s optimism of getting statehood, senior party leaders find Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s continuing opposition to bifurcation of states worrisome.

On Wednesday, Gurung told reporters in Darjeeling that his movement would take heart from the upshot of the Telangana Bill which clearly demonstrates that the Centre can move a bill all by itself to bifurcate a state and create a new entity without having to wait for the state’s consent.

However, GJM leaders want to raise the issue with Mamata Banerjee once she returns from Delhi later this week.

Senior GJM leaders feel that people are not in favour of large scale demonstrations and crippling strikes such as last year’s 40-day strike though that is the only way to force the statehood issue. Under the circumstances, most senior leaders are not willing to ignore local people’s interests.

“People would rather have development in the hills than fight for a separate Gorkhaland. We are presently trying to bring in such projects that make people’s lives better. A separate state can wait for the time being,” a senior leader said.

With the Bengal government setting up projects and working towards developing the hill areas, the leader added that the GJM will not go against Banerjee to force the statehood issue.

Sources in Darjeeling pointed out that Gurung would rather prefer to stay as the CEO of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), the autonomous hill council, rather than bargaining too hard on a separate state despite speaking for it, since he is aware of his waning popularity after last year’s strike action.

Sources said the GJM is trying to gauge the public mood and ascertain which way the scales are tipped. “If the locals believe the demand for Gorkhaland should be raised once again, it will be done. But for now people are happy with the projects Banerjee has announced,” a senior leader said, adding that the GJM will not get on the wrong side of the state government, though it is possible after Telangana.

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