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If GJM sincere on Darjeeling Sikkim merger, drop statehood demand first - GRC

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The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand for the merger of Darjeeling with Sikkim has been welcomed, albeit with some scepticism, by the Gorkha Rashtriya Congress, a non-political entity spearheading the merger issue. According to the GRC, if the GJM is really sincere about its demand, it should publicly give up the statehood demand and join hands to work towards achieving the merger. “We welcome the GJM’s decision for the merger of the two regions. It seems good sense has finally prevailed upon them. However, we want the Morcha to guarantee it has not taken up the merger issue with political intentions,” said GRC general secretary Ashok Lepcha today in Darjeeling. During the party’s ninth foundation day function on Wednesday, GJM president Bimal Gurung raked up the merger issue. “If the central government is unable to give us a separate state, we have the option of merging Darjeeling with Sikkim. Historically too, Darjeeling was never a part of Bengal. I will take up the issue with the Centre and the Sikkim government,” he said yesterday. Meanwhile, Lepcha pointed out that it was the GRC that has been pursuing the merger issue ever since its formation in 2004. He said the GJM now voicing a similar demand arouses suspicion. “The main ‘mudda’ (issue) of the political parties in the hills including the GJM is that of a separate state. The latter enacted dramatic agitations and continues to do so. The
Darjeeling MP and the three MLAs were also fielded by the Morcha to further the statehood demand. Therefore, this sudden change of issue is quite suspicious and we want the GJM to clarify its actual stand,” Lepcha said. He maintained that it was the GRC that has made the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger issue a national topic and it has received a positive response from the Centre. “Gurung should come to us and work together for achieving the merger if he is really sincere and does not indulge in opportunistic politics. No one is small or big in democracy. It must be remembered that we have made it a national level issue with a number of sacrifices along the way,” said the GRC general secretary. GRC convener Subodh Pakhrin, on being asked whether the Sikkim government and the people of that state would accept the merger concept, said, “It is only the Sikkim government that is opposed to the idea. The people of Sikkim are warming up to our issue and it is only a matter of time before they give their decision. The Sikkim government will then be obliged to give in to the public’s demand.” On the other hand, GJM leaders refused to comment on the GRC invitation, saying it was always beneficial to have options even as they asserted the statehood demand would never be dropped by the party. (EOIC)

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