Tripartite meeting with GJM in Darjeeling tomorrow

Though the GJM has demanded that talks be held at the political level, it will be at the administrative level. Union Home Secretary G K Pillai will lead a five-member Central team to the talks.

The state government will be represented by Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakraborty, Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen, Director General of Police Bhupinder Singh and Darjeeling District Magistrate Surendra Gupta.

The talks were preceded by a call for a four-day general strike in the hills from December 17, but it was withdrawn on the first day after the BJP, which has supported its demand for Gorkhaland, asked it to call it off.

Taking a leaf from TRS chief K Chandrasekhar Rao's book, the GJM had also begun a fast-unto death from December 11, but it was 'relaxed' yesterday at the appeal of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that there should be a conducive atmosphere for the talks.

What brought matters to a head before the talks was Telangana, with the GJM which claims that its demand for a separate state was a century old saying that the Centre had adopted different yardsticks for Telangana and its demand for Gorkhaland in Darjeeling hills and portions of adjoining plains.

With the GJM declaring that it would not budge an inch from its demand, West Bengal Home Secretary Ardhendu Sen said Gorkhaland would be discussed if it came up and that it had been discussed also in the earlier talks.

"We will go to the tripartite talks on a one-point agenda of Gorkhaland. We will discuss Gorkhaland only and nothing else," GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri said."

He said the GJM was not interested in discussing issues like granting of more autonomy to the hills.

He said GJM has asked the hill people to wear traditional dresses today and tomorrow to make clear that Darjeeling has nothing in common with West Bengal of which it is a part.

"People have been requested to wear dresses belonging to our tradition. We have to show those coming from the Centre for the tripartite talks that we have no similarity with Bengal," he said.

Asked about the agenda of the tripartite talks, the Home Secretary said granting of more autonomy or scrapping of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council were likely to come up.

The last tripartite meeting was held on August 11 when the Centre agreed to abolish the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council and work for setting up an alternative administrative framework in the hills.

The ruling Left Front and opposition Trinamool Congress and Congress have opposed the statehood demand.

WBPCC President Pranab Mukherjee recently ruled out the creation of Gorkhaland, which was also echoed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.

At a bipartite meeting with the GJM leadership some weeks ago, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee also ruled out creation of a new state.

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