Buddhadeb blames Congress for Darjeeling turmoil

Kolkata, Aug 5 (IANS) Accusing the Congress of endorsing statehood to Telangana for electoral gain, senior CPI-M leader and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Monday alleged that the action has led to turmoil in Darjeeling.

He also predicted that the country will be in flames in the coming days following fresh statehood demands, and expressed doubt over whether the Congress would at all gain from the creation of Telangana.

"In independent India, we have followed the formula of language-based states. Now the Congress suddenly went against the formula and has gone for fresh division of states. They thing they will be benefitted electorally. I doubt that," Bhattacharjee said at a party meeting here.

He said the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) was opposed from the outset about any fresh division of states. "We have been opposed from the state. Now the whole country will be on fire following new demands. There is not end to that..

Referring to the protests in parliament during the day against the creation of Telangana, he said: "There will be lot of opposition when they try to pass the act."

Bhattacharjee said had the Congress desisted from endorsing Telangana, "there wouldn't have been so much turmoil in Darjeeling".

He also held the state's Trinamool Congress government responsible for the situation.

"Firstly, when we formed the hill development body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in the 1980s, we forced Subash Ghising (supremo of Gorkha National Liberation Front - the main force in the hills then) to drop the Gorkhaland demand.

"But when the Trinamool government and the central government signed the tripartite (agreement)in 2011 with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM - the principal party in the hills now), the treaty clearly mentioned that the document was being signed without the GJM dropping the demand for Gorkhaland.

"We had then expressed fears that this would create complications in future. Now it is for everybody to see what is happening. Trinamool has to take responsibility for this," he said.

Bhattacharjee also alleged that the Trinamool had joined hands with all "outfits of anarchy" including the GJM ahead of the 2011 assembly polls. "Now, these forces are reaping the returns".

The hills have been on the boil after the GJM intensified their movement demanding Gorkhaland - to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district - following the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance's endorsement of statehood to Telangana last week.

GJM chief Bimal Gurung has already resigned as the chief executive of GTA, while life has paralysed in the hills for the last three days following an indefinite shutdown called by the party.

The Gorkhaland movement has left many dead over the past two decades, besides affecting the region's economy based on tea, timber and tourism.

On July 18, 2011, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM and the state and central governments for setting up the GTA, armed with more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s.

The GJM now runs the GTA after sweeping its maiden elections in July, 2012.


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