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An expert committee for Bodoland, but not for Gorkhaland is discrimination and undemocratic: Prof. MP Lama
The demand for Gorkhaland has once again been overlooked by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), justified by the formation of a committee to look into the demands of a separate Bodoland state. Nothing of this sort has been created to look into the matters of a statehood demand of Gorkhaland, which is the oldest demand in the country, much more older than the demand of Bodoland. This consistent ignorance by MHA has infuriated the supporters of Gorkhaland. Professor MP Lama, a probable MP candidate from Darjeeling feels that the decision is discriminatory as well as an undemocratic one.

In spite of being the oldest demand, neither the central nor the state government has taken a major step to take care of this demand. Some politicians, like Jairam Ramesh has openly stated that he would not support Gorkhaland, which just shows the discriminatory nature of such high-profiled politicians. If politicians voice their opinion so openly hurting the sentiments of the people in the hills, the situation can only be worsened. Upendra, a resident of Darjeeling and a strong supporter of Gorkhaland is furious with this comment of Jairam Ramesh.

Upendra asks, ''Recently Jairam Ramesh said he cannot support Gorkhaland due to "strategic reasons", would he care to explain what he meant by that? From what I could infer, in simple terms he was saying, he cannot trust us. Isn't that a shame? Our Central minister cannot trust the very same Gorkhalis, who have been defending India from day one of our independence? It is because of this very suspicion, we have been denied our right to self-respect, equality and dignity.''

It is primarily the Bengal government (under Mamata Banerjee), which does not want to divide Bengal at any cost, for their selfish interests. Darjeeling garners huge revenue for the state government mainly through tea and tourism, hence time and again, the state government has let their feelings known to the central government against the division of Bengal, sometimes even threatened about the consequences if Gorkhaland was turned into a reality.

Carving out a separate state of Gorkhaland from Bengal would mean a huge loss to the state. But, what about the exploitation and suppression that the people of Darjeeling have undergone under the Bengal government till date? Though, Darjeeling tea is known all over the world for its quality, exported at high price, but the same hands that work in the tea garden are one of the most under-paid daily wage earners in India. No wonder, many Gorkhas claim Darjeeling under Bengal as a political blunder. The situation could have been different, had Darjeeling been under any other state such as Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, etc.

MP Lama said, ''The Government of India possibly feels that they should go by the decision of the state government, due to political compulsions.'' The residents of Darjeeling feel marginalised as  Darjeeling can only elect 1 MP, while rest of Bengal's stand at 41. ''All the national parties are playing for the gallery and vote bank politics instead of nation building, given, which no one will want to support the demand for Gorkhaland and risk losing the rest of the 41 seats. Some call it 'realpolitik,' I call it political opportunism,'' said Upendra.

Whenever the demand of Gorkhaland reaches it climax, the state government start playing politics and silence the movement through their own ways. This can be realised after the acceptance of GTA by the ruling party in Darjeeling, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The people of Darjeeling are not happy with GTA, as it acts as a hindrance to the demand of Gorkhaland. People have become so frustrated with the political scenario in Darjeeling that they have lost faith in leaders, to which Roshan Giri, General Secretary of GJM disagrees. He further said, ''Presently we are in Delhi to meet the home ministry to discuss about Gorkhaland. GTA is a temporary arrangement for Gorkhaland. ''

Commenting on GJM's decision of accepting GTA, Upendra said, ''They rush in to accept any sort of stop-gap arrangement, which makes us seem like easily buyable. Why would anyone grant a statehood, when mere semi-autonomous arrangements seem to suffice?''

Failure of Leadership

This might be the umpteenth time that GJM leaders might have visited Delhi to ''discuss'' about Gorkhaland. But, till date, there has been no fruitful outcome from these so called discussions. As a result of which, people have started blaming politicians for the current situation. MP Lama also holds the failure of leadership accountable for the sorry state of the Gorkhaland movement. He said, ''The leaders of Darjeeling have failed in their leadership role. They have failed to take the situation in the right place, right forum and in the right manner as well.''

There was no dearth of support to the movement, which started in 2007 under the guidance of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Hoping that the party would be able to deliver upon the promise of Gorkhaland, the movement gained huge support and people began to dream about a separate state. They started to come out in the streets to support the demand of Gorkhaland. They struggled to feed themselves during strikes for many a days. The locals starved for a better future, only to be failed by the corrupt politicians.

In between these 6-7 years, many a things have taken place, more importantly, the political leaders of Darjeeling seem to have turned soft on the issue, for their selfish interests, though from outside, they seem to be supporting the cause of Gorkhaland.

All of a sudden, TMC and GJM seems to have become the best of friends and the issue of Gorkhaland has been relegated to the back burner. ''It is due to moronic politicians and sheepish people, which has led to the current situation in our struggle for Gorkhaland. West Bengal government are paying GJM leaders well to keep quiet, and in fact paying those who are quitting GJM to join TMC as well,'' said Upendra.

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