People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 23

June 22 , 2008


Left Front Calls For Restraint And  Peace In The Hill Areas Of Darjeeling

B Prasant

THE principal argument around which Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Basu wove his arguments against the separatist moves being indulged in by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) in the hill, terai, and dooars areas of the Darjeeling district, comprised two words: restraint, and peace.  

The senior CPI(M) leader called upon all concerned, especially the mass of the people to give the go by to the obnoxious contents that comprised the attitude of confrontation and alienation, and asked them to step boldly forward with a strident call for people-to-people solidarity, amity, and development.  

In direct contrast, the Trinamuli supremo, advised suitably, no doubt, by her new-found 'think-tanks' amongst the Maoists, sees,  a conspiratorial twist to the entire train of unfortunate development in the hills, foothills, and the plains of the northern most district of Bengal.  She refused to attend the all-party meeting chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has called for, on an urgent basis, on the hill developments.

Buddhadeb himself reported at the recent LF meeting at the Muzaffar Ahmad Bhavan, in brief, the developments that flowed from the call for an indefinite bandh by the separatist GJM.  Buddhadeb assured the LF leaders that despite a frank intransigence on the part of the GJM, he would continue to hold dialogue with the GJM leadership especially with Bimal Gurung whom he had already met twice earlier.

The LF constituent leadership made known their views on the hill scenario in some detail.  Following a session of discussion, a unanimous resolve was adopted that the LF would like to call upon the people of the hill areas, the terai, the dooars, and the plains to deploy their best intentions to cooperate with all concerned in resolving what was unfolding in the hill areas - i.e., bandhs, closure of economic activities, harassment of tourists etc.



The Left Front has chosen to censure in strong fashion the recent ruckus that happened near and in Siliguri when the GJM goons descended on the township and made life terror-filled for the denizens.  The hill and the plains people must rally and go ahead with courage and conviction to restore the easy relationship of comfort and trust inter se that had existed amongst them, a relationship based on friendship and camaraderie.  

All political parties who are rational and sensible have declared their intention to go in for a comprehensive and positive participation in the all-party meeting that Buddhadeb has convened.  The GJM is not a political party; according to Biman Basu, it is 'a movement, an agitation,' and thus, much like the instance when, as we recall, the GNLF was not called for the several all-party meetings on Darjeeling organised back in 1985 and 1986, there 'should not be any artificial debate created over the state LF government asking the GJM to participate in a bi-partite meeting on June 18 and not in the all-party meting to be held a day earlier.'



In Darjeeling itself, Gurung and his GJM have landed themselves in a political morass.  They were forced to postpone the so-called 'unlimited and unbound' bandh for the time being in the face of mounting anger of the hill people.  Their noxious attempt to create division amongst the people of the terai, the dooars, and the plains, on the one hand, and those residing in the hill areas on the other, has backfired on the separatists themselves.  None wants the violent days of 1985-1986 back.

Everyone, whether disgusted with the GNLF, or enamoured of the fire-brand rhetoric of the newest avatar of separatist fulminations of Gurung and his lackeys, have started to realise the value and political worth of the principled stand of the CPI(M), and the warm, sympathetic, and friendly gesture towards the hill people on the part of the Bengal LF government.  

The urban and rural poor, in particular, who have always stood by the CPI(M), have started to show their anger slowly at the manner in which the hill economy has been brought to a standstill by a handful of GJM goons.  The attacks on tourists and on tourism per se, too, have drawn great amounts of dissension.



Gurung and men of his separatist and opportunistic ilk have lately, and rather suddenly, started to repose a great amount of trust and faith in the Trinamul Congress and more so in the Pradesh Congress.  They have also begun to sing paeans of praise for the Congress-led UPA government.  Surely, the latest statement of the Indian foreign minister, and a Pradesh Congress stalwart of long-standing, Pranab Mukherjee has proved a dampener on Gurung's ill-gotten and opportunistic enthusiasm.  

The senior Congress leader was clear in his mind when he declared to the media while in the metropolis recently to give the inaugural address to a session of a chamber of commerce, that the 'union government is against the formation of a separatist state' adding that 'we also stand against the demand of carving out of Bengal a separate state.'  Mukherjee, who earlier had a session of dialogue in camera with the Bengal chief minister, also noted that there was no 'basic difference' in the principled stand on the issue of separatist state taken by the Bengal and the union governments.