Congress is likely to walk on a tightrope after endorsing Telangana, as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) will launch an indefinite strike in Darjeeling from 3 August for demanding statehood for Gorkhaland.
GJM chief warns schools, tourists
GJM chief Bimal Gurung warned the students and tourists, on Wednesday, to leave the hill station before the strike is launched. "I want all school children staying in the hostel to go home. Darjeeling will also be closed for tourists during the indefinite strike," he said in a statement.
As the launch would call for shutdown of markets and local business in Darjeeling, Bimal said, "Am worried that there won't be ration for the children. I don't want them to starve during the indefinite strike. There might be problems for tourists if they are stuck in Darjeeling during the indefinite strike."
The GJM spared the tea gardens in the hills from the strike but asked tourists and students to leave Darjeeling for at least two months.
GJM chief's resignation
As promised on 29 July, Bimal Gurung quit as head of Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) - the semi-autonomous body of the hills of Darjeeling. "I just faxed my resignation letter from GTA to MK Naraynan Governor of West Bengal. We cannot rest until we get Gorkhaland. The next 5 months are crucial for us," he said on a social networking site on Tuesday.
GTA was formed due to a tripartite pact among West Bengal government, Centre and GJM in 2011. GJM won the elections by a whooping majority in 2012. But Bimal termed the GTA as a 'total failure'.
"The WB Government never ensured smooth operation for the GTA. The Government has still not transferred all deptartments as in MOU," he told IBTimes.
All stand against Gorkhaland?
As West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee accepted Bimal's resignation, she ruled out that Gorkhaland will ever gain the shape of a separate state."Darjeeling is part and parcel of Bengal. There is no question of division. We are united, we will be united and we will be together," Mamata told IANS.
Moreover, the Trinamool chief alleged that Congress had promised GJM leaders that Darjeeling might get the status of a 'Union Territory', The Times of India reported.
The GJM chief, on the other hand, claimed that Congress did not even consider discussing the Gorkhaland movement, when party leaders came forth to discuss the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh at a Working Committee meeting on Tuesday.
Along with Congress and TMC, even Bharatiya Janata Party's state unit has backtracked and is opposed to the idea of bifurcating Bengal.
Who supports Gorkhaland?
Only Bahujan Samajwadi Party head Mayawati welcomed the fresh phase of agitation demanding a separate Gorkhaland, as she plans to win a big hand in next elections by banking on such demands. "The Centre, besides re-organising larger states, should also complete the process of division of Uttar Pradesh into four states, besides (formation of) Gorkhakland and Vidarbha," she told PTI.
To which Bimal replied," I am indebted to Mayawati Madam who has supported the demand for separate state hood for Gorkhaland in Bengal."
An ultimate strike for Gorkhaland?
The three-day strike that ended yesterday was a test run for the GJM. They blocked several roads leading to the hill station. Even the national highway 31, which is crucial for Sikkim and connects it to West Bengal, was disrupted by GJM supporters who set vehicles on fire. Sikkim has already begun stock-pilling its supplies due to the indefinite bandh, reported Hindustan Times.
"People must be ready to sacrifice something for Gorkhaland. The next 5 months are crucial for us. We will put more pressure on the Government," GJM leader said.
The party will send a six member delegation, including GJM general secretary Roshan Giri, to Delhi regarding the issue.