Siliguri, April 10: BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi Thursday shied away from mentioning “Gorkhaland”, a separate state being demanded in northern West Bengal, but said his party shared the “dreams” of the Gorkhas and attacked the union government for not honouring the community.
“I tell my Gorkha brothers, your dream is our dream. Give us a chance to ensure development for you,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader said at an election rally in support of three party candidates in north Bengal.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) – at the forefront of the demand for Gorkhaland to be carved out of Darjeeling and parts of Jalpaiguri districts – is backing the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.
Praising the Gorkha community for their role as soldiers and private security personnel, the Gujarat chief minister said the BJP’s mantra “sab ka sath, sab ka vikas” (With all, development for all) would benefit all sections.
“No government has given you this izzat (honour). You have earned your izzat through your honesty, hard labour and strength,” Modi said.
Refering to Tenzing Norgay, who along with Edmund Hilalry, was the first to climb Mount Everest, Modi said felt proud and thrilled while reading about Tenzing’s exploits in school text books.
“But it is a matter of regret that the current government in Delhi has never thought of honouring Tenzing. The BJP raised this issue time and again, but the government in Delhi did not listen.”
Modi said a new development model needed to be thought of to develop Bengal and the Himalayan states.
“Be it Siliguri, Darjeeling, neighbouring Sikkim, for the development of each of these areas, we have to think of a new model. And the BJP is committed to this,” he said.
Gorkhaland is a touchy issue in the state, and there is a strong sentiment against the demand among the majority of people opposed to any division of Bengal.
Keeping this in mind, the BJP – despite the GJM backing its candidates – has not included the demand in its manifesto.
But after the GJM and the BJP’s northeast units expressed their annoyance, the party amended its stand by issuing a letter which said it will “sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region”.