WB Govt ready for more autonomy, GJM says no

Kolkata, June 26: On the eve of the crucial meeting with the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) in Kolkata, the West Bengal government on Thursday ruled out any discussion with it on its separate statehood demand.
“There will be no discussion with the Morcha on the statehood demand, but talks can be held on administrative arrangements and greater autonomy (for Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council),” Chief Secretary A K Deb told reporters at Writers’ Buildings.
Deb said in the absence of Morcha President Bimal Gurung, Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee would talk to any GJM representative.
The chief secretary said, “Stateheood demand cannot be accepted. Instead, we can discuss, if GJM wants, administrative rearrangements and even extending greater autonomy (to the DGHC). Everything depends on what they want.”
The chief secretary’s assertion of not accepting the demand for a separate Gorkhaland in the talks, is being construed as a pre-condition for talks with the GJM.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee a few days ago had said that the state government was ready for talks with the GJM without precondition.
GJM not interested in more autonomy
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha on Thursday said it would not budge from its demand for Gorkhaland and would not accept accept the West Bengal government’s offer of discussion on development and more autonomy for the Darjeeling hills.
“I have instructed the GJM delegation in Kolkata to stick to a one-point agenda to urge Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to take the initiative for tripartite talks,” GJM President Bimal Gurung said from Darjeeling.
His comments came shortly after Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb said that that there would be no discussion with the GJM on its statehood demand and greater autonomy and administrative rearrangements for the Darjeeling hills could be discussed.
The GJM delegation, Gurung said, would only stress on a tripartite meeting and would not seek a discussion on Gorkhaland.
“The GJM demand covering Darjeeling district and the contiguous area of Dooars would be taken up at the tripartite meeting,” he said.
“We have only one aim, that is Gorkhaland. We are not interested in talks for more administrative powers for the hill council, or development of the hills,” he said.

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