'Old comrades' support Jaswant

'Old comrades' support Jaswant


Speaking in the House for the first time after being expelled from the BJP last August, Singh sought to reach out to the Leader of Opposition L K Advani and other saffron MPs as he made a strong plea for an appeal from Parliament to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) to withdraw its four-day shutdown in support of its demand for carving out a separate state of Gorkhaland from Left-ruled West Bengal.

Singh addressed Advani as his “former colleague” whom he had the “pleasure of sitting with for three decades”, as he sought the BJP’s support to his plea. He also reminded the BJP that it had supported the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland in its manifesto for the parliamentary elections earlier this year.

Advani too later referred to Singh as “mere sathi (my colleague)” and reiterated that the party had referred to the aspirations of the indigenous Gorkha people of Darjeeling and adjoining areas in its poll-manifesto. The BJP patriarch also said that a delegation of the GJM would meet him later on the day.

This was the first exchange between Advani and Singh in the House after the latter had been expelled by the BJP on August 19. 

The GJM later called off its shutdown after a meeting with Advani and Deputy Leader of the BJP in the LS, Sushma Swaraj. The BJP top brass advised the GJM to continue the tripartite talks with the Centre and State Government. The next round of talks is scheduled to be held on December 21 next.

Hunger strike continues
However, 14 GJM women on Monday resorted to a hunger-strike in New Delhi to put pressure on the Government and make it accept its demand for a separate state for the Gorkhas.
Singh has been a vocal supporter of Gorkhaland ever since he contested and won the last election on a BJP ticket from Darjeeling with active support from the GJM.
Voicing his support for Gorkhaland in the LS on Monday, Singh said that having small state was not a matter of principle, but a necessity for administrative efficiency.

“It is not separation. The valiant nationalists (of Darjeeling and adjoining Gorkha-dominated areas of West Bengal) are emotionally separated from the rest of the State. They are also geographically distant,” said Singh. “What is needed is not passion, but compassion. They are the guardians of border. Don’t distance them further,” he added. 

Several MPs of the CPI (M), CPI and other leftist parties opposed Singh’s plea. Amid appeals by the Speaker Meira Kumar to calm down, the CPI’s Gurudas Dasgupta said the leftist parties had no objection if the House made an appeal to the GJM to withdraw shutdown and join talks; but they would protest against any “indirect encouragement for separate state” of Gorkhaland.

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