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Statehood movement in Darjeeling to face yet another uncertainty

By Debasis Sarkar
SILIGURI : It is not known which way the separate statehood demand movement will flow in Darjeeling hills after BJP comes to power in Delhi, as is being projected by most of the post election analysis. Even the separate statehood activists, present at the election ally of BJP, are also not sure of the fate of Gorkhaland movement. Understandably, common mass in the hilly region in West Bengal is waiting for another spell of uncertainty. "Now it is almost certain that BJP is going to form Government and we are sure that it will do the best to form separate Gorkhaland state as per our demand. It is a matter of days only. Now we all must start thinking how we can make the new state as the best state of the country," said Mr. R. Giri, General Secretary of Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM), the force that is now driving separate statehood demand of Darjeeling hills riding on the mass Gorkhaland sentiment of hills. 

Ambitious dream indeed. But the possibility of it coming to reality is not as easy as it sounds, a number of GJM sympathizers feel. When asked about Gorkhaland statehood, Mr. S S Ahluwalia, BJP Vice president and Lok Sabha candidate from Darjeeling with support from GJM responded tactically, "We are committed to what we have written in our election manifesto." Interestingly, the 2014 manifesto of BJP does not have any mention of the word 'Darjeeling' or even 'Gorkha.' It just writes, "We recognize the special needs and unique problems of the hill and desert states. In consultation with the Governments of these states, state-specific developmental priorities/ models will be evolved." After developing a stern relationship with the ruling TMC in the state, GJM had no option open other than supporting the BJP. BJP also played apparent sympathetic on Gorkhaland issue to ensure support from GJM. 

But, "BJP will think ten times before going for statehood for Darjeeling that comprises only three sub divisions," said political analysts. "BJP is expecting high rise in its vote share in this election. We will ensure further growth in that to gain enough strength to form Government in state by 2016," said Mr. Rahul Sinha BJP State President. While keeping this as a target, it will be tough for BJP to think of splitting Bengal as over 95 per cent of the state population, residing in areas other than Darjeeling, is against the Gorkhaland demand. Naturally, "Future of Darjeeling is not clear. We are getting prepared to face yet another spell of uncertainty, may be chaos that has already become synonymous with Darjeeling," said an old hills dweller.

- The Economics Times
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