BJP state unit keeps distance from Jaswant on Gorkhaland

  The state BJP unit came down heavily on former union minister and Darjeeling BJP parliamentarian Jaswant Singh on Sunday for his open support for Gorkhaland. According to party leaders, by rooting for Gorkhaland he was harming the interests of the party in West Bengal.

 At the release of the book Why Gorkhaland in New Delhi last week, Singh had said that the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland was quite legitimate. “The demand is for a small state within the country. It is very important to remember that it is the only district in the country which actually adjoins three international borders and is very close to the fourth,” said Singh. The BJP had always favoured small states, he added.

 “What Singh said must have been his own comments. In our party manifesto it is clearly written that if voted to power the party would actively consider the legitimate demands of the Gorkhas. Nowhere does it say that the party will back the demand for Gorkhaland,” said Shamik Bhattacharya, BJP state secretary. (Indian Express)

Jaswant bats for Gorkhaland

NEW DELHI/SILIGURI: Darjeeling’s BJP MP Jaswant Singh has said the Centre should realise the strategic importance of Gorkhaland.

“The demand is for a small state within the country. It is very important to remember that it is the only district in the country which actually adjoins three international borders and is very close to the fourth,” Singh said while releasing a book, Why Gorkhaland? in New Delhi on Thursday. He added that BJP had always favoured small states.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), meanwhile, has decided to allow educational institutions, tea gardens and the Cinchona plantation to function normally from July 20 onwards. The decision was taken at an emergency meeting of its central committee on Friday.

Apparently, GJM’s decision was influenced by requests from the Union government and its ally, BJP. A letter was again sent on Thursday by the Union government, inviting GJM for talks. But it asserted that the atmosphere should be made conducive first, including the opening of National Highway 31A. Even Jaswant Singh and BJP’ national spokesperson, Rajiv Pratap Rudi, had requested GJM to exercise restraint in the run-up to the talks scheduled for August 24 in Delhi.

NH-31A, Sikkim’s lifeline, to open for five days from Saturday. However, it has issued a rider that only those vehicles with Sikkim number plates will be allowed to operate and not the West Bengal ones. “We have blood relations with Sikkim and they have also supported our agitation. Therefore, we have decided to open NH-31A for five days,” said Benoy Tamang, the GJM assistant secretary. However, shops, markets and petrol pumps on NH-31A, which fall under Darjeeling, will not be allowed to open.

GJM’s indefinite strike, which started on Tuesday, entered its fifth day on Friday and no untoward incident was reported.