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Mamata seeks friendship, but Bimal Gurung no mood to reciprocate, has other plans

CM Mamata Harka Bahadur Chhetri at foundation day celebration of Sherpa Cultural Board in Darjeeling
Even as Mamata Banerjee extended an olive branch to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung, the latter was in no mood to reciprocate, and instead demanded that the chief minister give up her divide and rule policy first. During her brief speech at the foundation day of the Sherpa Development Board at the North Point School ground, Banerjee said without taking any names, “I want to convert Darjeeling into Switzerland and that’s why I come here frequently. As I want development work to take place here, I do not say anything to those people who are against me. I want to work but cannot do so if we continue to fight.”
It was a subtle hint of a gesture of friendship by the CM, but the GJM president was blatant in his reaction. “First, she should pledge she would not indulge in a divide and rule policy. Only then will I meet or talk to her,” Gurung said in a press conference at the GorkhaRangaManchBhawan, 2km from the CM’s programme venue. The chief minister did not dwell much on the GJM today but on her arrival to the hills, she had made an oblique reference in Siliguri. “Indulging in arson will not solve anything. If you have any problems, you should talk to the state government,” Banerjee said, referring to the torching of government properties by GJM activists during the statehood agitation.
Gurung however, was obdurate that it was the chief minister who was fomenting trouble in the hills. “She brings trouble to the hills whenever she comes here. It hurts our feelings. I have not fought with her nor created trouble. She is attending programmes in my area without facing any disturbance,” the GJM president said. North Point School ground in Singamari, where today’s programme was held, is just a stone throw’s away from the GJM party office which falls under Gurung’s constituency.
A once blooming relation between Banerjee and GJM has gone sour with the latter accusing the former of trying to curb the statehood demand by creating divisions among the hill communities by creating development boards. Banerjee however, said she visited the hills to make contacts with the people and to know their problems and address them. “I have visited the north Bengal regions more than a hundred times, which even an MLA cannot do. I only want to have good relation with people and work for them and develop the area. Darjeeling has been neglected for several years,” she said at the function.
Making use of the mass gathering, the CM tried to touch the people’s chord with the Assembly election just around the corner. “Let others say whatever they want. All I want is the support of the people. I want to say that you should support those who love and care for you. I will continue to visit the hills,” Banerjee said.
However, Gurung rebuked the CM’s speech and termed it as dramatic. “Let her show a single project that has been completed as announced be her over the years. One must give from the heart. But the chief minister only engages in vote politics. We had a very good relation earlier, but that has broken due to her divisive politics,” the GJM chief said. Tomorrow, the chief minister will attend the 120th birth anniversary of NetajiSubash Chandra Bose at Chowrastha to be organised by the information and cultural affairs department. Although an invitation has been extended to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, the presence of GJM leaders including Gurung is uncertain, said sources. (EOIC)

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