Darjeeling, Aug 17: Upping the ante against the West Bengal government, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Saturday said its legislators would now sit in the opposition benches in the state assembly.
“We have taken the decision in protest against the state government’s concerted attempts to crush our democratic movement for creation of a separate state of Gorkhaland,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said.
Speaker Biman Banerjee has been intimated about the decision, he added.
The GJM has three lawmakers representing Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong constituencies.
The decision comes on the eve of the five day “Ghar Bhitra Janta” (people inside homes) announced by the Gorkhaland Joint Action Committee (GJAC)- the newly formed committee by the GJM and other pro-Gorkhaland parties.
The GJM also said it was willing to discuss matters with Governor M.K. Narayanan, who earlier expressed his willingness for a dialogue.
“We can talk to the governor if he wants, but then the issue of granting a separate Gorkhaland concerns the central government and we prefer talking to the central leadership,” Giri said.
The Gorkha outfit, which has clamped an indefinite shutdown in the Darjeeling hills demanding a separate state, said the “creation of Gorkhaland is not the partition of Bengal”.
“Darjeeling was not a part of Bengal and was leased by the British from the kingdom of Sikkim in 1835. Kalimpong and Dooars were also annexed in 1865 from Bhutan,” GJM supremo Bimal Gurung said.
He said the allegations of being “foreigners” used by those opposed to Gorkhaland only strengthened their resolve for the movement.
Meanwhile, signs of dissent became visible in the GJAC with representatives of the All India Gorkha League (AIGL) demanding that the GJM members should resign from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) – the autonomous hill development body.
“We will not attend any meetings of the GJAC unless the GJM sabha members resign from the GTA,” said AIGL general secretary Pratap Khati.
The GJM has over the past few weeks dubbed the GTA a “failure” and repeatedly said it will be repealed soon. However, only Gurung has resigned as its chief executive, while the other elected members are still continuing.
Armed with more powers than its predecessor – the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in the late 1980s – the GTA was created July 18, 2011 via a tripartite between the GJM and the state and central governments.
The GJAC will hold a meeting Sunday to discuss the issue.