Kolkata: West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh Monday said his party is not in favour of a separate Gorkhaland state and wants a permanent political solution in Darjeeling hills.
He said those who do not want development of the hills are doing politics over it.
The comment comes in the backdrop of the word ‘Gorkhaland’ by Union Home Minister Amit Shah in a letter to Darjeeling MP Raju Bista, who had sought protection for Gorkhas in the national capital.
The use of the word has kicked up a row in West Bengal with the ruling TMC seeing in it a “plot” to divide the state.
The BJP, which has emerged as a major political force in the state after the Lok Sabha polls, has rejected the charge as “baseless”.
“We have never said we want Gorkhaland. We want a permanant political solution to the problem in the hills so that development can take place there. We have said this before and we are repeating it,” Ghosh said.
“We had won the Darjeeling seat with a huge margin under very tough circumstances. We will work for the development of the people of the hills,” he added.
According to sources in the saffron party, Bista wrote a letter to Shah in July in which he voiced concern over Gorkhas being left out of the purview of the special cell formed by Delhi Police to counter acts of racism, particularly against people from the northeast.
Shah had answered said Bista’s concern over the people of “Gorkhaland and Ladakh area” is being looked at.
The use of the word ‘Gorkhaland’ by Shah drew criticism from TMC, which accused the Centre and the BJP of plotting to divide the state.
Senior Trinamool Congress leader and Bengal minister Gautam Deb said, “Why did he use the word Gorkhaland? There is no place called Gorkhaland in the entire area. It seems after dividing Jammu and Kashmir, the BJP is planning to bifurcate Bengal. But, as long the TMC is here, nobody can divide the state”.
Reacting to the TMC’s allegation, Bista said the use of the word Gorkhaland has nothing to do with creation of a separate state.
The Darjeeling MP said he wrote about the residents of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) – the autonomous body that looks after the development of the Darjeeling hills.
“The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was set up through a tripartite agreement between the TMC government, Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), and the Congress government at the Centre in 2011. So, if they can use the word Gorkhaland, why can’t we use it to refer to the residents of the area. This is political hypocrisy of the TMC,” Bista had told PTI.
The development comes against the backdrop of the Centre’s decision to revoke provisions of Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir and created two union territories (UT) after bifurcating the state.
Several hill parties had demanded UT status for Darjeeling after the Kashmir developments.
Darjeeling has in the past witnessed violent agitations over the demand of a separate Gorkhaland, the latest being in June 2017, when the hills witnessed a 104-day strike over statehood.
Speaking on the issue of poor tourism infrastructure in Bengal, Ghosh said TMC leaders and ministers are only interested in wiping out jungles and build cottages so that they can take “cut money” from those projects.
“The TMC government has done nothing for the development of tourism in Bengal. They are just destroying jungles in Terai and Dooars and building cottages and TMC leaders are taking cut money from those projects,” Ghosh said.