From Himalayan Beacon: By Barun Roy
Gorkhaland Movement maybe given up in favour for Presidential Rule /Union Territory
2010 dateline extended to 2017
Is this a UTURN in Gorkhaland Movement?
In what can be termed as a definite u-turn in Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s stance, the delegation now in New Delhi will be pursuing a demand for Union Territory status for the area specified earlier by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha as the state of Gorkhaland. No specific and categorical statement so far has come out of the party. However, sources within the party has confirmed that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s has already submitted a ‘Status Report’ to the Central Government and proposed that if the Central Government was willing to impose Presidential Rule over the specified area – involving Darjeeling District, and parts of Jalpaiguri including the Bhutan Dooars as a step towards Union Territory, the demand for the separate state of Gorkhaland will be given up. The 2010 Gorkhaland State dateline has further been extended to 2017 postponing the inauguration of the State of Gorkhaland by another 7 years, which had until recently been held sacred by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. There have also been rumours of infighting inside the party, however nothing has so far been substantiated.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s stated change of stance has sent shock wave all over the nation especially among the Gorkhas. There have also been confusion over what the Gorkha Janmutki Morcha actually wants to pursue in the future. Sources in the party say that some leaders favour Union Territory and some Presidential Rule. However, the majority have now come to believe that the achievement of separate state of Gorkhaland by March 10, 2010 was impossible.
“Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has realized that it was following an impossible dream. Gorkhaland was not possible within the time they had themselves stipulated. And this has been the setback. If they had not come up with a dateline and forced up the people the idea that the date was inviolable and that Gorkhaland will be achieved within the said dateline, this would not have happened. Gorkha Janmukti Morcha could have carried on with the struggle for Gorkhaland at least for next 10 to 15 years. But since the came up with a rather strange concept of dateline, things seemingly fell apart for them. I am also greatly concerned now that they are asking for Presidential Rule in Darjeeling Hills and Dooars Terai when a better idea would have been a demand for Union Territory. Presidential Rule cannot be implied over certain parts of a state. If at all Presidential Rule were to be invoked it would be over the entire state. I really can’t understand why Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has all of a sudden come out with this concept. Maybe Gorkha Janmukti Morcha wants Presidential Rule implied over Darjeeling Hills and Dooars Terai so that the involvement of Bengal is negated. And once that is done a Union Territory can be achieved, and thence statehood.” said Jeevan Baraily, a social activist and a social worker.
The delegation which is presently in New Delhi will first meet with the Union Home Secretary and the State Home Secretary. Once the said meeting is said to be fruitful the delegation will then be offered a ‘hearing’ by the Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Sources in New Delhi suggest that nothing much should be accepted from the Second Tripartite Meeting.
“The meeting will be not be held at South Block. This is suggestive of the fact that the Government is not taking Gorkha Janmukti Morcha seriously. The delegation will meet the Union Home Secretary and the State Home Secretary and once that meeting is completed, the delegation will possibly get to see the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram who will give them a sympathetic hearing. Now remember the new Union Home Minister already has too many things in his plate and so far as politics in Delhi is concerned the looming war scenario is something which is giving nightmares to the politicians including the Prime Minister , the Defence Minister and the Home Minister. The buildup of the Pakistan Troops along the Indian Border has forced the Cabinet to rethink a lot of things. P. Chidambaram hardly has much knowledge of the Gorkhaland issue and the Ministry brief has so far been based on the brief sent by the West Bengal Government, as such the Union Home Minister is not very sympathetic to the issue of ‘division of West Bengal’ at a time when the nation faces serious challenges,” said a source close to South Block, in New Delhi.
“Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has developed a habit of giving up its demands and agitational programme. This was evident since its inception. On one day, they would call for a strike and then the next day withdraw it. They packed off tourists by truckload saying that they would declare an indefinite strike and the moment the time came they gave up the demand. The only thing they ever pursued were relay hungerstrike and the closing of DGHC and state government offices. Now they are planning to give up the statehood demand in favour of Presidential Rule. What happened to the do and die calls. The movement is now fading into a whimper,” said a local trader in Darjeeling.
While Gorkha Janmukti Morcha will definitely give up the demand for statehood as sources within the party has confirm this saying that the 2010 dateline has been reschedule at 2017, whence the statehood for Gorkhaland will be inaugrated, the demand for Presidential Rule and Union Territory may be taken as the party’s attempt to buy time and achieve at least ’something’ before the advance of 2010. And it is again true that it will take time even for the demand for Union Territory to be realized, the party may still have opened its cards too early. Possibly, tomorrow the Party may come out and negate everything but then again, it will have to accept that it made the mistake nu setting dateline to the struggle it was to champion and yet again it has committed another mistake by possible giving it up for another ‘alternative’. And then again there is this ultimate catch – If West Bengal was to accept Union Territory Status for Darjeeling Hills and Dooars Terai, why not accept statehood for the same. Union Territory also implies the redrawing of Bengal’s map. If the State Government’s stance was to be believed, even the formation of Union Territory would require the division of Bengal.
Shiv Rana Comments:
1. There is no provision of Presidential Rule in some part of state. Constitutionally not possible.
2. May be what they imply is Union Territory status of the areas as mentioned, which is possible.
3. I hope the negotiators know that the present Union Home Secretary, Mr Madhukar Gupta, was the first Home Secretary and then the Chief Secretary of Uttaranchal/ Uttarakhand. So he would know much more about the bifurcation of state and its accompanying baggage. Just for information so that they can use this tool as well during the negotiation.
Barun Roy Adds:
While Union Territory and Presidential Rule are two different things, lets wait for a few days or at least till tomorrow to confirm whether GJM’s concept of Presidential Rule and Union Territory can be implied interchangeably.
For one thing – Presidential Rule cannot be imposed upon certain parts of a state! Hence, Presidential Rule over Darjeeling Hills and Dooars Terai will be against the spirit of the Indian Constitution and in fact a Constitutional anomaly. There is simply no such precedence in Indian History.
Secondly, the Union Territory will imply Bengal’s acceptance to the same. Which further implies that if Bengal can accept for Union Territory Status for Darjeeling Hills and Dooars Terai why can’t it accept separate statehood of Gorkhaland. Because in both cases – Union Territory of Darjeeling and the State of Gorkhaland needs to be created by carving an administrative zone from the map of Bengal on which thence Bengal will have no say.
Thirdly, the issue of Gorkhaland has never been based on administrative or economical parameters. The demand for the state of Gorkhaland is based on fulfilling the identity of 1.25 Gorkhas in India, which parties in favour of Gorkhaland including GJM, AIGL, CPRM and so on have stood by, the demand for the Union Territory status in essence goes against that idea and as such in the future may be counter-productive as non Darjeeling Hills based Gorkhas and more so Gorkhas who are sympathetic to the issue of Gorkhaland but have never been to Gorkhaland may feel betrayed and the parties later struggling for the Statehood of Gorkhaland may not be trusted by more than 1 Crores Gorkhas in the rest of the nation. If the achievement of Gorkhaland at this moment is impossible, the achievement of Union Territory status may also be impossible at this this stage. However, downgrading the movement from the movement for Gorkhaland to Union Territory status may only lead to the eventual destruction of the Gorkhaland movement status. Is this possibly Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s reaction to BGP/CPRM politicking in New Delhi. If Gorkha Janmukti Morcha intends to downgrade the Gorkhaland movement to a Union Territory for Darjeeling movement the 1 crore non Darjeeling Hills based Gorkhas involvement in the movement may be negated. If this is in essence an attempt to bring down other parties and convert a national movement into Darjeeling based movement, the possibility is that Gorkhaland Movement with Gorkhaland as the Israel for all Gorkhas irrespective of where they work and live, everything will be lost.
I hope all the leaders and parties alike instead of coming out with declarations and indulging in the ‘Politics of Haste’ relaxes and restragizes everything and looks into the future. Shortcuts and pathetic alternatives may only lead to the final killing of the Gorkhaland Movement itself.