Gorkhaland Demand Remains Top Priority as Darjeeling goes to Polls

Gorkhaland map
With the political honeymoon with Mamata Banerjee now well and truly over, the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland has returned to reverberate around the hills of Darjeeling.
This time the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has raked up the demand with the state elections as excuse. Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, Amar Rai, justifies the stand despite knowing well that only the Centre can fulfil that demand.

"It's a question of identity. It is basically in Bengal that we are called outsiders, foreigners, immigrants. So we will continue to raise the issue of Gorkhaland here in our own state of West Bengal. But at the same time what we aim at is making the movement Delhi-centric because we know that it is ultimately Delhi, the Union Parliament who can grant us statehood", Amar Rai, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha Candidate, Darjeeling said.

Amar Rai's counterpart in Kalimpong, Morcha candidate Sarita Rai is also hoping to garner support by reigniting the ethnic cause. It's a cause which Mamata Banerjee claims to have taken care of by forming the Gorkha Territorial Administration or GTA which is an autonomous body for hill administration.
"The demand for Gorkhaland is the mother of all our demands. You are saying that the state has no role to play. But we must raise the demand in the state assembly as well. Because when Gorkhaland will actually come into existence, it will be carved out of Bengal", Sarita Rai, Candidate, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Kalimpong said.

Former leader of the Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha in Kalimpong, Harka Bahadur Chhetri quit the organisation and formed his own political umbrella, the Jan Andolan Party. Chhetri has now emerged as the most formidable opponent of the Morcha in the hills with support from the Trinamool Congress and is looking to change the political rhetoric of the hills.
Chhetri maintains that issue of separate statehood has pushed the real issues of the hills to the backdrop and has put the region in a vicious cycle.

Trinamool's Sharda Rai Subba, believes it's time to go beyond the frenzy of statehood.
"The urban areas are struggling, and the situation in the rural areas is far worse. There are no panchayats in the rural areas. As a result, government facilities for the rural poor are not reaching them", Sharda Rai Subba, Trinamool Congress candidate, Darjeeling said.
Morcha's popularity still remains on priority whereas the local issues of Darjeeling are likely to take a back seat in the upcoming polls on Sunday.


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