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Gurung-led delegations meets Modi, raise statehood demand

DARJEELING : GJM president Bimal Gurung and a seven-member team on Thursday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum reminding the Modi of the BJP’s promise to fulfil the long-pending statehood demand of the Gorkha people. The Morcha described the 30-minute interaction as fruitful. “Our meeting with the Prime Minister was very good and positive,” said GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang over the phone from Delhi. “We were given a heartening audience by Modiji in spite of his tight schedule.” The Morcha had organised a nine-day dharna from March 9 to 17 at the Jantar Mantar by mobilising its frontal organisations including executives of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, municipality chairmen and youth activists. Gurung joined the demonstrations midway and is in the national capital since to meet senior BJP and Opposition leaders on the statehood issue. 

The memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister is a reminder of the BJP’s promise to examine the Gorkhaland statehood demand, which the saffron party had included in its election manifesto both in the 2009 and the 2014 general elections. Tamang said, “The BJP’s national manifesto has promised to sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other communities of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region. We pointed this out to the prime minister and requested him to expedite the process of fulfilling the more than a century old legitimate and justified demand of the Gorkha community.” The Morcha leaders, who were accompanied by Darjeeling MP SS Ahluwalia, also reminded Modi of his campaign speech in Siliguri ahead of last year’s election. He had said - “Gorkha ka sapna mera sapna hai”. 

Tamang said the memorandum has also noted that the term Gorkhaland has been legitimised by the West Bengal government by passing the GTA Act in the state assembly. Further, with the President signing the GTA Bill, the term Gorkhaland has received official endorsement, according to the GJM leader. Earlier in the day, a three-member GJM delegation called on Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha at his office and urged him for prompt action in facilitating funds for setting up a central university in the GTA region; an annual special economic development package to the GTA of not less than Rs1,000 crore for the next five years; and a fair and equitable revenue sharing mechanism so that revenues generated from tea, timber, tourism, forest and forest products, hydro and international border taxes in the GTA get channelled into developing the region. 

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