Calcutta, Dec. 13: Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi today asked Bengal to introspect whether it had given to “the Eastern Himalaya” as much as it had derived from the “source of oxygen” and appealed to the Gorkha Janmukthi Morcha (GJM) to give up its agitation and join talks.
In a “departure-eve” message, Gandhi, whose tenure at the Bengal Raj Bhavan ends tomorrow, said: “Our stunningly beautiful parvatmahal has been going through a tense period. The Eastern Himalaya have been a source of oxygen for our state. We should ask ourselves if we have given to it as much as we have derived from it. We would do well to try to enquire as to why our Gorkha brothers and sisters feel as they do.”
But the governor asked the GJM leaders, too, to introspect. “They must ask themselves if in our democracy any public aspiration, howsoever constitutional, should be articulated by unconstitutional methods. Looking upon their fellow citizens in West Bengal as their compatriot brothers and sisters, they must put across their aspirations in a spirit of mutual trust and understanding. The cosmopolitan and broad-minded traditions of Darjeeling have been India’s pride. I am sure these traditions will remain unharmed.”
The appeal came on the eve of the launch of a four-day bandh in Darjeeling following the Centre’s announcement on initiating the process to grant Telangana statehood.
The governor urged the GJM to keep faith in the dialogue process and call off a “fast unto death” by 105 people in the hills.
“The tripartite talks opened by the governments offer the best road map and it is my earnest hope that they will lead to a satisfactory resolution. I urge those who are fasting for Gorkhaland to give up that form of agitation because the tripartite process is now on and must proceed in an atmosphere conducive to negotiation,” the governor said in the message.
The fourth round of tripartite talks is scheduled on December 21 in Darjeeling in the presence of the Centre-appointed interlocutor, Vijay Madan. Earlier tripartite meetings were held in Delhi. But the Morcha has turned sceptical about the talks after the Telangana promise.
Busy preparing for tomorrow’s bandh, the Morcha appeared to stonewall the appeal. “We have not received any written communication from the governor. We cannot react till then,” Binay Tamang, assistant secretary of the Morcha, said in Darjeeling.
The governor’s 12-page, 2,967-word message covered almost every aspect of life in Bengal, singing hosannas to the state and raising several issues close to his heart but not desisting from pointing out flaws.
Gandhi renewed a call to end political violence, stressing the need to bring Bengal out of the debris of bhangchur, bandhs and bomabaji. He denounced “Maoist” violence — the statement used inverted commas while twice referring to the group — saying it is not only “incompatible with a political democracy but is repugnant to it”.
“Unless all inter-party, inter-cadre or inter-supporter violence is halted, West Bengal will suffer irretrievable damage…. No party should countenance the use of unauthorised arms….
“It is a matter of great regret that distrust between different political entities and personalities, as also within institutions such as our universities, is disfiguring life in our state. We have to rectify this situation by changing our conditioned mindsets,” he said at a time campus violence is also flaring up.
He referred to the cycle of retribution in the state. “The choice before West Bengal should not be between the wrong-doing of one and the counter wrong-doing of another…. The choice has to be between chaos and civility, disorder and decorum.”
After condemning Maoist violence, he did bring up the issue of neglect as in the case of the Darjeeling hills. “A new chapter of ecologically intelligent and culturally sensitive progress needs to be opened for the long-neglected and exploited people of that region.”
The farewell letter followed a tea party that was attended by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata Banerjee but separately (see Metro). The two political rivals did not come face to face, unlike last time during the Singur agitation when the governor set the stage for their first-ever meeting that eventually failed to break the land deadlock.
The governor fleetingly referred to the skirmishes, too. “My experience of life would have been one-sided had my tenure not received the dart of criticism from personalities in our public life. I shall assume that I have deserved such criticism. But I would like to say that I bear no resentment whatsoever about it,” he said. (The Telegraph)
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