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11 Aug 2017

Darjeeling-Sikkim merger theory does rounds amidst demand for Gorkhaland

Gorkhaland agitationAmitava Banerjee, One india, August 11, 2017, Darjeeling, August 10, 2017: Amidst demands for creation of Gorkhaland, the "Darjeeling- Sikkim merger" theory seems to be making a steady comeback.
Various pro Gorkhaland camps claim that this option is being probed by Delhi to end the ongoing impasse in the Darjeeling Hills. A political outfit in Sikkim labeled it as "Sikkim's existence in peril." The outfit has called for an emergent meeting on August 12 to discuss the issue.
With a renewed agitation for Gorkhaland since June 8, all eyes are fixed on Delhi hoping for a permanent solution. Front rung leaders of different pro Gorkhaland outfits are camping in the Capital meeting Government heads and heads of national parties seeking support for the separate state demand. 
Despite the Union Government maintaining a calculated silence on the Darjeeling issue, many pro-Gorkhaland outfits claim that the BJP led Union Government is mulling the option of a merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim in line with the demands of the agitators for separation from West Bengal. 
The theory was further spurred by a RSS leader hinting that the Darjeeling impasse would be resolved through merger with Sikkim. "Let the 22nd State (Sikkim) be bigger " he had posted in a social network site. 
The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, second largest party and main opposition party in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly has invited various social organizations, political parties and individuals to a meeting to discuss the "grave issue. " 
"There is an indication of possible merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim thereby threatening the very existence of our State. It is of utmost importance for us all to meet and discuss the matter immediately. Let us save our motherland for our posterity" stated the letter signed by Uttam Lepcha, General Secretary of the party. 
The meeting will take place in a hotel at Deorali near Gangtok on Saturday at 11am. 
Interestingly Sikkim Democratic Front, the ruling party has not yet commented on this issue. However political commentators are of the opinion that the Sikkim Democratic Front- the ruling party of Sikkim too is not keen on merger. 
The present Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) led Government of Sikkim is a strong supporter of Gorkhaland. Pawan Chamling, SDF President and the present Chief Minister of Sikkim had moved a resolution in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly in March 2011 in support of Gorkhaland. 
This time too the SDF has been vocal in support of the Gorkhaland demand. 
However many are of the opinion that Chamling's move in support of Gorkhaland is just an attempt to put the lid on the merger issue. 
However political outfits of Darjeeling harbor a different view. As the topography, geography, culture, language and socio economic structure is same, the merger would make Sikkim a bigger and a viable state, the theory justifies. Political outfits of Darjeeling including the Gorkha Rashtriya Congress and Darjeeling Sikkim Merger Forum adhere to this theory. 
These political parties talk of admittance by the West Bengal Government regarding Darjeeling being a part of Sikkim, in a State Government Publication entitled "An Information Document" published in 1986. 
Political outfits from Darjeeling like the All India Gorkha League, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist support this theory as a separation tool. These parties claim that there are three options for separation from Bengal including separate state, union territory and merger with Sikkim. 
Sikkim as a state would also benefit in all aspects including area, socio-economics and even in terms of representation in the Parliament feel these outfits. 
In a public address on October 7, 2015, Bimal Gurung, President, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had stated "No matter what, we want separation from Bengal. If the Union Government is finding it difficult to carve out Gorkhaland from West Bengal then they should consider merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim, as Darjeeling was initially a part of Sikkim." 
Provisions including breaking away parts of a large state and merger with other states are specified in Article 3 of the Indian constitution feel the parties supporting merger. The Kingdom of Sikkim was founded by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th century. A public referendum in 1975 led to Sikkim joining India as the 22nd state. 
Sikkim however remains restrained on the merge issue, though the initiative should logically come from Sikkim itself. 
In case of a merger, Sikkim stands to be swamped by Darjeeling feel political pundits. Sikkim has an area of Sikkim 7096 sq km and a population of 619,000 (as per the 2012 census.) 
The proposed area of Gorkhaland has an area of 6450 square kilometers (comprising present Darjeeling District and the contiguous areas of Dooars in North Jalpaiguri district.) Darjeeling district alone has a population of 1846823 (as per the 2011 census.)

(Source & Courtesy: http://www.oneindia.com/india/darjeeling-sikkim-merger-theory-does-rounds-amidst-demand-for-gorkhaland-2519501.html)

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