The West Bengal government on Tuesday refused to discuss the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state raised by some hill-based outfits during an all-party meeting here, as it requested them to withdraw the ongoing indefinite shutdown in the north Bengal hills.
Rejecting any discussions on Gorkhaland, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee argued that the matter was not under the state government’s jurisdiction.
“They (hill parties) raised the demand of Gorkhaland but we did not agree with this issue. We said this is not in our hands and we cannot discuss this. You can raise your voice as it is your democratic right, but the state government has its own jurisdictions, some constitutional obligations and bindings,” she said after the meeting at the state secretariat Nabanna near here.
Major political parties in the hills including the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha attended the meeting.
“We requested them to withdraw the ongoing shutdown that has been continuing for so long and restore normalcy in the region keeping in mind the suffering of the locals. Every body in the meeting agreed that peace and normacy should be restored. Let them take their own time. Let them discuss among their parties and decide,” said Banerjee.
To a specific poser from the media about the hill parties strongly raising the Gorkhaland demand at the meeting, she curtly told the questioner “not to vitiate the situation further by raising such queries”.
“This was a bipartite meeting between the hill parties and the state government. They might ask us to recommend it to the Centre as it is not in our hand, but we cannot d that. They have not asked for a tripartite dialogue but they have conveyed their demand to us,” she said.
Hailing the discussions as agood, positive and constructive’, Banerjee said the dialogue should be a continuous process to resolve the deadlock over the issue.
“The dialogue must continue to end the deadlock situation. It is good that the process has started. Our interactions would continue,” said Banerjee, also the Trinamool Congress supremo.
“It is good that instead of bulldozing or imposing anything on anyone, it is the freedom of right and freedom and democracy that prevailed,” she said, refering to the GJM and other hill parties raising the Gorkhaland demand during the meeting.
The GJM, the principal political party in the hills, has time and again accused the state administration of high-handedness and attempts to bulldoze in handling the situation in the hills.
“They can raise their voice and we can raise ours.We thank all the hill-based political parties, specially the the ones present here today. We want peace and development for the hills,” Banerjee said, announcing the next meeting would be held on September 12 in Uttar Kanya, the state secretariat in north Bengal.
Banerjee proposed during the meeting that she would resolve the scarcity of supplies of public distribution materisls in the hills if the strike was withdrawn.