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12 Jun 2017

TMC invokes Hindi in billboard protest

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, June 11: Language has again cropped up as an issue in the hills - and this time, it is the Trinamul Congress.
The Bengal ruling party has decided to counter the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's decision to allow billboards only in English and Nepali, while avoiding Hindi.
"We have decided to take on the Morcha's decision not to allow billboards in Hindi also. Hindi is our national language and as the nation comes first, we will take up this issue with the Prime Minister," said Binny Sharma, Trinamul's spokesperson in the hills.
Sources in Trinamul said the decision to rake up the Hindi issue was an attempt to counter not only the Morcha but also its ally, the BJP.
"The Morcha is an ally of the BJP but by raising an issue such as this, the Trinamul Congress is trying to corner the Morcha and also put the BJP on the backfoot in the rest of Bengal," said a political observer
The Morcha's announcement follows a protest that stemmed from Mamata Banerjee's decision to introduce Bengali in schools. The chief minister has, however, clarified that the language would be made optional in schools in the hills.
Observers said the government's decision had given the Morcha the opportunity to revive its Gorkhaland demand.
"We know that the Morcha is a partner of the NDA. But we also want to know the BJP leadership's stand on Morcha's decision not to include Hindi to write billboards in the region. We believe that this is a threat to the Hindi-speaking people of the region. We will take up this issue at the highest level," Sharma said.
Asked about Morcha's protest against the plan to introduce Bengali in schools, Sharma said: "The Morcha just told lies. The chief minister has clarified that Bengali is optional. Moreover, there is no government order on Bengali being made compulsory in the hills."
Trinamul leaders in Siliguri today said that unlike the state administration that is set to act firmly against any agitation by the Morcha from tomorrow, the ruling party leadership had instructed their colleagues in the hills to act in a "sublime and effective manner".
"We have been specifically told to abstain from any move that can create an opportunity for the Morcha to perpetrate violence," said a Trinamul leader.

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