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JAP chief Harka Bahadur Chhetri slams Morcha on state

Harka Bahadur Chhetri speaks at the JAP foundation day celebration in Kalimpong
The Jana Andolan Party today accused the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha of not being serious about the Gorkhaland demand and said politics was all about development.
Speaking at the first foundation day celebration of the JAP at the Mela Ground here, party president Harka Bahadur Chhetri dared the Morcha to hold a seminar and clarify what was meant by the "long-pending demands of the Gorkhas".
"What we now want to say is let the Morcha form a committee...let them hold a seminar only on what long-pending demands are. The Gorkhaland you talk about is not the long-pending demand. If it was Gorkhaland, they would have written Gorkhaland. There is no mention of the separate state; no Gorkhaland. Even the Morcha knows it. That is why they don't tell their MP," Chhetri said.
The BJP manifesto released for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections says the party will "sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long-pending demands of the Gorkhas".
The JAP president, who was the most articulate voice of the Morcha before quitting the party in September 2015, again dared the Morcha to force S. S. Ahluwalia, the Darjeeling MP and Union minister of state for agriculture and parliamentary affairs, to table a Bill on Gorkhaland in Parliament to prove that it was serious on the separate state issue.
"If Bimal Gurung really wants to start an agitation for a separate state now, first he must leave the GTA...secondly, ask the MP to resign or tell the MP to table the Bill (on Gorkhaland) drafted by us in Parliament. If he doesn't agree, force him to resign. If you can do that much, then all will shine bright in your favour from tomorrow," he said.
The JAP had submitted a draft Bill on Gorkhaland to Ahluwalia in April last year, and asked him to table it in Parliament. Late last year, Ahluwalia had categorically told JAP youths protesting in front of his official Delhi residence that he would not do so.
Chhetri said for years, hill politicians had been exploiting people on identity issue, but they actually wanted development.
"We actually want to bring the people around to the real issue: politics is for development, politics is for (creating) facility. They say politics is for identity, it may also be for identity, but that is economic identity," he said.
Speaking earlier, Amar Lama, a JAP national bureau member, said the time had come to move on from identity politics to the politics of development. "There has to be development of human resources. We must preserve our tea and the DHR (Darjeeling Himalayan Railways). They are our identity. A controversy is being sought to be created by suggesting that identity is bigger than development. Even after getting states, racial comments and hate crimes are being faced by the people of the Northeast...the problem of identity will remain even after getting a state," he said.
In the course of his speech, Chhetri, who at one time was considered very close to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, avoided bringing up either her or the Trinamul Congress whose presence is growing in the hills.(TT)

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