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Gorkhaland Total Bandh Enters Fourth Month As Leaders Duck

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Gorkhaland Total Bandh Enters Fourth Month As Leaders Duck

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]By:  Saeed Naqvi

Darjeeling, Thimpu, Gangtok, Siliguri are a tight cluster on any map even in a large Atlas. Because of the recent standoff with China over Doklam, the strategic importance of the area, the saliency of the Siliguri corridor, cannot be overlooked. Is New Delhi taking an interest in the demand for a Gorkha homeland from this perspective?

My taxi has to wait outside Kurseong Toy Train station, on the way from Siliguri to Darjeeling, because a march by agitating Gorkha women will not let us pass. Violence in this sensitive area could be very unsettling. Angry women bang on the bonnet of my car and jeer at the Gorkha driver: “Have you joined the Bengalis?” It is a threatening query.

Similar bandhs and marches have brought life to a grinding halt for the past three months – and continuing. There are, of course, cunning leakages – a few chicken being sold here, some vegetables there. But this private enterprise disappears at the sight of approaching marchers.

Contrary to what one might imagine, this sporadic enterprise does not demonstrate a weakening of the popular will. In fact it helps people a bit and enables them to bear the suffering a little longer. It supplements the agitation.

Clearly Gorkhaland is not likely to be conceded in a hurry. What then have the leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha promised the people? What spell have they cast on them because of which the people have diligently pursued these marches, street-corner meetings, picketing outside offices in an atmosphere of total bandh (bar the contrived leakages). Schools, hotels, restaurants, shops, are shut and labourers on all the 88 tea plantations have struck work and are, therefore, beginning to depend on packets of food some well meaning people are arranging.

No one quite knows the preferred game plans of the plantation owners. The gossip is that they would now like the strike to continue till December so they are not obliged to pay the workers three months wages (for the period when the plantations have been closed) plus bonus for puja holidays.

The inordinate extension of the bandh is causing all the leaders of the Gorkha Movement Coordination Committee to miss heart beats with alarming frequency.

West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee who is always inclined to see agitations, however legitimate, as an affront to her, has slapped countless cases against leaders, including Bimal Gurung, President of GJM, the main political party.

This has given him a respectable reason to run away from Darjeeling and hide in Sikkim. The cases, in other words, are a godsend. Had there been no cases, how would the leaders escape the wrath of the people who are on this occasion truly mobilized? They must be shown some movement towards Gorkhaland. This “movement” is proving elusive even by inches, leave alone feet and yards.

Since all leaders in the coordination committee were pushed from the precipice into a total bandh by the GJM leader Bimal Gurung, they are privately cursing him, but are unable to publicly say anything that would make their resolve for Gorkhaland look weaker. But some of them are keeping a sly eye on any escape route which they can sell to the agitating populace as an advance towards their cause. The situation is custom made for Mamata Banerjee who is desperate to fill whatever political spaces she can with her TMC before the BJP does. If she can divide the leadership with promises of development plus a dialogue with the centre on “the people’s demand”, perhaps a “dissident” faction can then be mobilized as a vehicle for the TMC.

There is a very big “perhaps”. Why would West Bengal politicians and bureaucrats ever loosen their grip on the hill station, the toy train which their children enjoy so much during the summer vacation? There is nothing more popular internationally and which Bengal claims as its own –Tagore and Darjeeling tea.

New Delhi habitually goes into a freeze when confronted with something new, particularly where strategic concerns are involved. Gorkha/Nepali speaking people from Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan are already keeping New Delhi busy. Gorkhaland would be a new distraction.

A strong card the Gorkhas can play concerns the military. There are thousands of Gorkhas in the army. It is not uncommon to run into a soldier with heroic stories of the Kargil war. These soldiers would be perfectly justified in seeking home leave to see the families who have suffered a bandh for three months. Thousands seeking leave at once? It is a sensitive pressure point.

The straightforward political game the BJP can play to endear themselves to the Gorkhas is by opening up debate on something less than Gorkhaland – say, a Union Territory. Gorkhas would accept it. Darjeeling would come directly under New Delhi. Mamata would of course throw a ginger fit.

After a meeting of Gorkha leaders with Mamata on August 29 Vinay Tamang, joint Secretary of the Morcha and Anit Thapa, member of the Executive Committee, took the leaders and the agitators by surprise by asking them to end the bandh because positive but unidentifiable developments were expected by September 12. By that time the next round of meetings with Rajnath Singh and Mamata would have been held, they said. Well September 12 too has come and gone and there is no sight of the bandh coming to an end.

Little wonder most of the Gorkha leaders, Bimal Gurung, Vinay Tamang, Anit Thapa are on a rapidly declining popularity graph.

Bimal Gurung’s political career was launched by his opening numerous fan clubs for a Gorkha singing sensation, Prashant Tamang, who won the 2007 Indian Idol, a reality show. Prashant won in the third week of September. On October 7, Bimal Gurung had launched the GJM.

Impulsively, he leapt into the bandh when Mamata wanted Bengali to be inserted in the three language formula. Later she withdrew her word. But by that time the GJM and the coordination committee of other Hill parties were fairly advanced on a high-wire act. An endless bandh was on.

The leader whose graph is up is R.B. Rai, twice Member of Parliament, President Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist, Central Committee. He is universally accepted as politically savvy and an incorruptible and respected leader. He believes “tripartite talks” are a promising enough outcome to end the bandh. Apparently, Rajnath Singh has dropped hints that New Delhi, Kolkata, Darjeeling tripartite talks on Gorkhaland are possible. But will Mamata agree?

Rai is cross with the amateurishness of Bimal Gurung for playing “the ultimate card of a total bandh without having a backup plan. We should have started with Mohalla marches, struck work for a few hours, tested the political reaction in Kolkata and New Delhi, planned jail bharo andolans, gauged the plantation workers capacity to survive long strikes without wages. And so on.” There was no plan, he laments. It is a fruitless bandh but it can only be called off when people see some real promise, he says.

So, until God comes riding a thunderbolt by way of a solution, Gorkha leaders are condemned to remain suspended on the last rung of a very high staircase leading to nowhere.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Amit Shah accuses Congress of preserving Article 370 for 70 years

Shah was addressing a Lok Sabha election rally in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh where he said the Congress and the Samajwadi Party preserved Article 370 for 70 years, due to which terrorism in the country increased.

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Amit Shah accuses Congress of preserving Article 370 for 70 years

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday attacked Congress on Sunday for preserving Article 370 of the Constitution, due to which terrorism increased in the country. He further added that BJP will never let another division of the country happen. Shah was addressing a Lok Sabha election rally in Jaunpur district of Uttar Pradesh where he said the Congress and the Samajwadi Party preserved Article 370 for 70 years, due to which terrorism in the country increased.

Addressing the people Shah said they had made Modiji the prime minister for the 2nd time and he abrogated Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.  He compared the situation to earlier times in the valley, when the Army had to be taken along for hoisting the tricolour, at that same Lal Chowk (Jammu and Kashmir) to the situation now when the shobhayatra of Lord Krishna is being taken out. The rally was organised to garner support for B P Saroj, the BJP candidate from the Machhlishahr Lok Sabha constituency in Jaunpur.

Shah further added that the divisive policies of the Congress want to divide the country again but BJP will never let that happen again. The Union Home Minister accused the grand old party of spreading lies that if PM Modi comes to power for a 3rd time at the centre then he will abolish reservation.

Shah Pointed out that the prime minister has been in majority for the last 10 years and he did not use it to abolish reservation. Shah said, he wanted to ask (SP chief) Akhilesh Yadav and (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi that when their government was in power for 10 years, what did Uttar Pradesh get in that period? The UPA government gave Rs 4.9 lakh crore to Uttar Pradesh in 10 years as compared to the NDA government which gave Rs 19.11 lakh crore.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

Arvind Kejriwal says BJP started Operation Jhaadu to crush AAP

The Delhi chief minister alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu so that they do not grow big and become a challenge to them

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Arvind Kejriwal says BJP started Operation Jhaadu to crush AAP

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu to crush the Aam Aadmi Party since its popularity among the people is rising too fast. Kejriwal was addressing Aam Aadmi Party workers at the party office in New Delhi where he claimed the AAP’s bank accounts would be frozen after elections and they will be brought on the roads and left without an office.

The Delhi chief minister alleged BJP has started Operation Jhaadu so that they do not grow big and become a challenge to them.  He further added that through Operation Jhaadu, AAP’s big leaders will be arrested; they are being arrested, and in the coming days, Aam Aadmi Party’s bank accounts will be frozen.

Kejriwal pointed out that ED’s lawyer has already given this statement in court that soon after the election, AAP’s bank accounts will be frozen. He said that if they freeze their accounts now, then AAP will get sympathy. As a result after the election, ED will freeze AAP’s bank accounts. He said AAP’s party office will be cleared out, and the party will be brought to the streets.  Kejriwal said these are the 3 plans made by the BJP.

The Delhi chief minister claimed that no gold or money has been recovered from him, and the BJP, by creating false cases has got AAP leaders arrested. Kejriwal recalled that since the time he came to power in 2015, many allegations had been against him by the BJP. He said after the liquor policy scam has happened people are asking them if the scam happened then where is the money. He pointed out that in other places, when raids happen, notes and gold are recovered, but here nothing was found. Kejriwal asked the people that where is all the money? He said BJP had made fake cases and arrested AAP leaders.

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2024 Lok Sabha Elections

PM Modi says Congress is the mother of corruption, party was involved in coal and 2G scams

PM Modi said, Congress and JMM know nothing about development and their only job is to speak lies, loudly, again and again, and everywhere, their only objective is to do an the X-ray of poor people’s wealth and steal it.

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PM Modi says Congress is the mother of corruption, party was involved in coal and 2G scams

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed an election rally in Jharkhand’s Jamshedpur on Sunday (May 19) amid the ongoing Lok Sabha Elections 2024.  While addressing the election rally in Jamshedpur PM Modi said, people’s excitement told him what result will come on June 4 in Jamshedpur.

He recalled the time when he used to work as a BJP party worker for many years and used to ask people at that time they would come at 10 or 11 am to attend an election rally. But today he was witnessing a huge crowd here. The prime minister thanked all of them and said Lok Sabha election decides and strengthens the future of the country.

During a public rally in Jamshedpur, PM Modi said, Congress and JMM know nothing about development and their only job is to speak lies, loudly, again and again, and everywhere, their only objective is to do an the X-ray of poor people’s wealth and steal it. He further accused the Congress and JMM of snatching the reservation of SC and ST and the party leaders of the two parties are continuously abusing Modi every day. He asked if they are not able to think beyond this? He said the whole country has realised their truth.

PM Modi said, Congress and their ally parties, wherever they have governments, he challenged those chief ministers and this is not his political statement. The prime minister said Congress’s Shehzada keeps opposing business industries, businessmen and investments.

 PM Modi asked which businessman will go and invest in those states? What will happen to the youths of those states?  He said all investors who come to him and say that they would not go to these states because of their ideology against them. He said businessmen are verbally abused there and investors are forced to think that since Shehzada has this kind of thoughts, his ally parties would have the same thoughts as well. PM Modi added Congress is the mother of corruption and party was involved in coal and 2G scams as well

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