West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday cautioned the people against forces trying to divide the state.She was addressing the swearing-in ceremony of the members of the newly elected Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) board in the hills of Darjeeling in North Bengal.
The chief minister chose to use the occasion to set the tone against the leaders and political forces in the hills who are in favour of a separate Gorkhaland statehood.However, she did not make a direct reference to Gorkhaland.
"I do not want to mention what happened in the past.But today I want a promise from all of you. Please do not allow any leader to create tension in the hills again. You have to ensure that no opportunist leader can set fire in the hills again," the chief minister said.
Although the chief minister did not name anyone, political analysts said that her clear indication was towards Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief, Biman Gurung. According to a specialist in north Bengal and northeastern Indian affairs and the writer of the book, "The Buddha and the Borders," Nirmalya Banerjee, GJM boycotted the recently-concluded GTA polls claiming that without the permanent political solution the polls for GTA were irrelevant.
"Now what are the two main components of this permanent political solution? The first is scheduled tribe status for the 11 Gorkha sects in the hills. The second is obviously the separate Gorkhaland state. So, on Tuesday, the chief minister set that tone so the demand for separate Gorkhaland state is not resurrected again," he said.
Giving support to the chief minister, Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) chief and the newly elected GTA chairman, Anit Thapa also made it clear that demand for separate Gorkhaland statehood is not at all his priority.
"The overall development of the hills will be my prime focus and for that restoring absolute peace here is essential. A new era in the hills starts from today," he said.Recently, BGPM bagged control over GTA by winning 27 out of 45 seats.
Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that during the last ten years the state government has provided Rs 10,000 crore to GTA. She also announced that soon there will be a separate hill university and an industrial hub in the hills.