Narayanan willing to talk to GJM

Kolkata, Aug 15 (IANS) A day after refusing to mediate on the Gorkhaland issue, West Bengal Governor M.K. Narayanan Thursday said he "was willing to talk to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leadership".

"If he wants to talk to me, I will talk to him," said Narayanan on media queries whether he would engage in a dialogue with GJM chief Bimal Gurung.

Narayanan also hoped for an amicable solution to the issue of a separate Gorkhaland state for which the GJM has been agitating.

"I hope some kind of discussion between the parties (GJM and the West Bengal government) emerges so we may have a solution without recourse to violence," added Narayanan.

Narayanan Wednesday had ruled out any mediation.

"Governors don't mediate. If I was not a governor, then may be in my earlier avatars, I could have but as a governor I can't," the former national security advisor had said.

The GJM has ruled out any dialogue with the state government saying the matter concerned the central government and they would talk only with the Delhi leadership.

Life in North Bengal's Darjeeling hills has been paralysed following an indefinite shutdown by the GJM started Aug 3 to press for a separate Gorkhaland state.

While the Calcutta High Court has declared the shutdown illegal, the state government has been cracking down on the movement arresting key Morcha leaders and supporters.

The GJM, meanwhile, has relaxed the shutdown for four days, beginning Thursday.

The Gorkhaland movement for a separate state -- to be carved out of parts of Darjeeling and its neighbouring Jalpaiguri district -- has left many dead over the past two-and-half decades, besides affecting the region's economy chiefly based on tea, timber and tourism.