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28 Apr 2017

Shah blow to Morcha

AVIJIT SINHA & VIVEK CHHETRI, TT, Siliguri, April 27: Mamata Banerjee might be agitated over BJP president Amit Shah's onslaught on the state government during his three-day trip to Bengal but Trinamul leaders in the Darjeeling hills are happy.
The reason: Shah remained silent on the Gorkhaland demand during his entire trip.
His silence, Trinamul leaders said, would help them in the campaign for the coming municipal polls in the hills where the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been making "tall claims" that the Prime Minister had expressed his "commitment" to start the process of forming the separate state.
In March, Morcha chief Bimal Gurung met the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in Delhi. Later, he issued a statement, claiming the Prime Minister's "commitment".
However, none of the central or state BJP leaders has made any statement on the Morcha's claim.
"Morcha leaders were expecting some positive remarks from Shah on the Gorkhaland demand and the meetings they had with the Prime Minister and NDA leaders. They could have then referred to them in the campaign to consolidate votes in the Morcha's favour. However, Shah remained silent on the issue during the entire trip," an observer said.
A Trinamul leader said it was obvious that from now on, they would raise the BJP's silence on the statehood issue in a consistent manner.
"We want to make it clear to the people that the claims of the Morcha leaders are doubtful. People should support Trinamul and the chief minister's vision for developing the hills and not the Morcha that is simply using the Gorkhaland sentiment," Binny Sharma, the spokesperson for Darjeeling district (hill) Trinamul, said.
During his trip, Shah spoke about the Morcha, the BJP's ally, only in the reply to a question at a news conference in Calcutta yesterday.
"We do not ignore or forget our old friends," he said, when asked if the BJP would have a tie-up with the Morcha in coming elections.
Senior Morcha leaders, however, do not find any reasons to worry.
"We had spoken to the BJP president at the NDA meeting in Delhi on April 10. He has a clear understanding of our demand. It is not necessary that he will have to mention it at every public meeting or interaction. We are working together and have faith in the Centre," Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said.
In Bengal, none of the state BJP leaders speaks clearly on the Gorkhaland demand and in fact some are opposed to it. Such opposition exists when the BJP, in its election manifesto for the 2014 Parliament polls, mentioned that it would "sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region...".
"State BJP leaders don't want to alienate voters in other parts of Bengal. Central BJP leaders are now focusing on the entire Bengal ahead of the 2019 Parliament polls. So, it seems they, too, will refrain from commenting directly on Gorkhaland. That should be a cause of worry for the Morcha," an observer said.

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