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19 Jun 2017

Shun violence in Hills and talk, says Rajnath

TNN | Jun 19, 2017, KOLKATA: Union home minister Rajnath Singh, in the Centre's first official response to the Darjeeling turmoil, reminded protesters on Sunday that "nobody should resort to violence" and "every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue".
The BJP minister's series of tweets, which came 11 days after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters hurled bombs 200m from the venue of a Bengal cabinet meet in Darjeeling, followed a half-hour conversation with Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday morning.
The call to abjure violence may be part of a BJP strategy to distance itself from an ally's call to dismember Bengal. BJP has an MP from Darjeeling, who won because of GJM support, but the rest of Bengal may not take kindly to the Gorkhaland call, feel a cross-section of BJP leaders in Bengal.
Banerjee has already latched on to this pan-Bengal sentiment, with her "won't allow division of Bengal as long as I am alive" statement on Saturday being widely seen as a successful effort to force BJP to clear its ambiguity and declare its stand on the statehood issue.
But GJM preferred to up the ante. The party's Darjeeling MLA, Amar Singh Rai, said: "I see no reason for us to enter into any dialogue only with the state government. We will enter into a dialogue only with the Centre on a single-point agenda — a separate state of Gorkhaland."
Rai, however, remained non-committal on a tripartite dialogue.
Trinamool Congress didn't stay quiet either. In a Facebook post, TMC national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said: "If there are misgivings, dialogue works best, within the framework of the Indian Constitution. But before that, violence has to stop. There can be no negotiations at gunpoint." Trinamool secretary-general Partha Chatterjee will head a party delegation at the all-party meet in Siliguri on June 22.
It wasn't without reason that Banerjee not only apprised Singh "of the situation prevailing in Darjeeling", but also reminded him that in the 2011 GTA agreement — to which the Centre is also a signatory — GJM had agreed to ensure peace and normalcy in the region.
The home minister said: "Spoke to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the morning. She has apprised me of the situation in Darjeeling. I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful.... Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue. All stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in an amicable environment."
Relieved with the "amicable environment" fineprint, the state BJP offered to mediate between GJM and Trinamool. The party leadership has disassociated itself from the Gorkhaland cause, harping instead on a more powerful GTA.
Bengal BJP secretary Rahul Sinha said BJP could mediate for dialogue only if the CM refrained from her war-like posturing against GJM. State BJP president Dilip Ghosh appeared apprehensive the state will not allow a BJP mediation for "then the problem will be solved".
O'Brien said: "The separate state demand in Darjeeling is not viable. The area is so small it has one parliamentary seat and two assembly constituencies. If such parameters were accepted for forming new states, India would not have 29 states but 290."

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