West Bengal Left Front chairman Biman Bose today said TMC’s government’s “mishandling” is one of the main reasons behind the unrest in the Darjeeling hills and demanded an all party meeting to resolve the situation. “After 43 years the TMC government had spent lakhs to organize cabinet meeting in the hills. We don’t think provocation and violence can solve the problem. We think only talks can bring peace in the hills,” Bose told reporters here. “We will support if the government takes an initiative to call an all party meeting to chalk out a solution,” he said.
Bose, who is also a CPI-M Politburo member, recollected how the Left Front government under the leadership of Jyoti Basu had brought peace in the hills in the 1980s. “When the GTA agreement was signed we had raised our objections that it is paving the way for bigger problems in future. Now the state has to sit with GTA and solve it. Provocations and counter provocations will only put the safety of tourists at stake and deepen the crisis,” Bose said. The Army staged flag marches in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong as a 12-hour bandh sponsored by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) got underway today, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee describing the bandh as “illegal”.
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GJM chief Bimal Gurung challenged Banerjee to stop the agitation in the hill and said it was his writ that “runs in the hill”. He also projected himself as the “chief minister of the hills”. GJM is against the alleged imposition of Bengali language in the schools in the hills. It has accused TMC government of trying to disrupt peace in Darjeeling by its “divide and rule policy” and called the 12-hour shutdown.