The President of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has at last shared a piece of his mind saying that “he has taken care of the aspirations of the people while working on the alternative setup to Gorkhaland”. While the stress might be on and quite visible on the party President’s face, the statement could have at least been made after 10th of March 2010 for it seems the party is debunking its own stance on Gorkhaland and to an extent going back on the promises made to the people at large.
Why is GJM so eager to debunk the issue of Gorkhaland and accept an Interim Council?
No matter what the Union and the State Governments are offering, the biggest mystery is why is GJM so eager to debunk the issue of Gorkhaland and accept an Interim Council? Hadn’t the party in almost all the political conventions in and around Darjeeling Hills and Terai sworn to struggle for ‘Gorkhaland’ until the very end? Hadn’t the party President Bimal Gurung issued statements declaring that the Party would in no circumstances accept anything less than ‘complete’ statehood? Then why this sudden change in stance? Even if the party believes that the separate state of Gorkhaland is not possible presently and that it has to come to some sort of ‘deal’ with the Government to seem to have at least achieved something for the people, the idea of ‘Interim Council’ is still bad. The Gorkha National Liberation Front accepted the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council as an ‘Interim’ setup when it ‘gave up the demand for Gorkhaland’ in the August of 1988. We know today that that ‘Interim’ period continues to this day. In all the years of the functioning of the DGHC some conspicuous development has taken place but still the overall benefits that it was supposed to deliver as promised by Subash Ghisingh and Jyoti Basu, the former Chief Minister of West Bengal was never witnessed. If indeed Gorkha Janmukti Morcha settles down for the interim council, it will find itself contradicting the sole purpose of its existence – the formation of Gorkhaland and the opposition of ‘all types of alternative setup(s)’ to Gorkhaland and no matter what and how the party leaders would try to clarify their stand today, the same would sound hollow and self-serving.
The only reason as to why it seems GJM is so eager to settle for an ‘Interim’ Council is that Oligarchic Elitist elements within the party want to ‘cash the cheque’ and get into a position of governance as soon as possible even if it means betraying the cause of Gorkhaland once again. If the same line of observation is to be given any credit it might even be contrived that these group of Oligarchic Elites could be the ones which hijacked the Gorkhaland Movement in 1988. The real question then being who are these Oligarchic Elites who have been playing with the aspirations of the people by raising the issue of the separate state of Gorkhaland and debunking it mid-way as soon as their ends were met?
Where is Jaswant Singh?
In a time when the future of the people of Darjeeling Hills is being deliberated upon, the individual who was slated to not just represent the Darjeeling Constituency in the Union Parliament but also to champion the cause of Gorkhaland is conspicuous by his absence. In fact, since his election to the Lower House of the Union Parliament the former Union Minister has rarely made his way to Darjeeling Hills. There has neither been any concentrated effort on his part to address the various problems of the people of his constituency. The projects under Member of Parliament Local Area Development Fund (MPLAD) seem to be unknown to all concerned. Was the veteran Minister elected from Darjeeling Hills to remain merely a mock witness to the tragedy unfolding in Darjeeling Hills once again? It is time now that the former Minister starts working towards the fulfillment of the promises made to the people of his constituency. I would for one want to see the former Minister make concrete efforts towards rallying leaders for the separate state of Gorkhaland. Further the demand for the establishment of a Centrally Administrated University at Darjeeling would not be a bad idea coupled with a public discussion on how he wants to use the funds allotted to him under the MPLAD in his Constituency. His participation in the Tripartite Meetings would also be warranted since he would not only attract national and international media coverage but also given the fact that he is the only popularly mandated individual to represent the people of Darjeeling Hills in any official capacity.
The need of the Hour – Formation of an All Party Forum for Gorkhaland
It might be a good idea that before going any further with signing of any accord with the Union and State Government to form an All Party Forum for Gorkhaland. Membership to the Forum could be open to all like minded parties. The General Council of the Forum being formed by representatives nominated from the member parties. The President of the General Council could be elected by the representatives of the General Council through secret ballot and with each member party being offered equal representation in the General Council. Certainly, the formation of such a forum based on true democratic traditions would go a long way into strengthening of the democratic process in the region. Such an effort would also unite people and strengthen the movement.
Apolitical Organisations should make themselves heard
Apolitical Organisations like Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh and the likes should make themselves heard in the public arena so that the people know what they feel about the issues unfolding in the region. Certainly, it would be counterproductive and against the traditions of intellectual persuasion if cultural, social and literary organisations remain unmoved and believe that they are beyond and above the political happenings of the region and people they represent. Intellectuals at all stages must also make themselves heard. Political parties in turn must work towards the creation of an environment where all concerned can speak their mind free. While this might seem at first detrimental to the functioning of political parties, the political process itself will in the long run gain and the people at large will prosper in the true sense.
Barun Roy – B.A (Philosophy), PGDCA, PGCAD, M.A. (History), M.A. (Journalism and Mass Communication), UGC NET (History), UGC NET (Journalism and Mass Communication), Doctoral Scholar (Mass Communication) Central University of Sikkim is an author based in Darjeeling, India. He is also a devoted researcher and a scholar.