Union Minister S S Ahluwalia today pitched for a negotiated settlement involving bi-partite or tri-partite talks to resolve the impasse in Darjeeling. “As an MP from Darjeeling I will say that all problems can be solved through negotiation. If problems can be solved through bipartite talks it is good and if it fails then we have to opt for tripartite talks between central and West Bengal governments and Gorkha Janamukti Morcha,” the Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and Agriculture told PTI. “Earlier, Jyoti Basu, Buddhadev Bhattacharya and Mamata Banerjee could restore peace in Darjeeling through tripartite talks,” he said. Ahluwalia also appealed to the West Bengal government to initiate the process for a dialogue to resolve the crisis. “The state government needs to exhaust all its options before seeking central intervention.” He said that Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had herself acknowledged in the August 29 meeting with the Darjeeling parties the right of Gorkhas to demand a separate state but clarified her position saying it was “beyond her jurisdiction”.
“As chief minister, she has to initiate the dialogue and talk to GJM leaders. Only when she fails to resolve the crisis can she ask for a central intervention. Then New Delhi can intervene. She cannot run away from her responsibilities,” he said. The indefinite shutdown demanding a separate Gorkhaland state in Darjeeling is on for its 79th day today and has hit life in the hills. On the question of statehood demands in Tripura, Ahluwalia said, “The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura has demanded a separate state by carving out the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council, which forms two-third of the state territory.
“In case of forming a new state by carving out any territory, the respective state would have to send official proposals and have to furnish logic behind forming new state. The Tripura government have so far not sent any such proposal. So, the question of forming a new state in Tripura does not arise.” The Centre is interested in empowering the tribal councils and in that case too specific proposals have to be sent to the Centre on the basis of which action plans can be chalked out. If there are specific proposals from the state for development of tribal areas of Tripura, the Centre would respond to it, the union minister added.
Ahluwalia had yesterday ruled out the possibility of forming separate states in West Bengal’s Darjeeling hills and in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council. “Neither West Bengal nor Tripura governments had so far sent any such proposal to the Centre. They have not even furnished any logic behind forming a new state,” he had said. The indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills continued today after GJM supremo Bimal Gurung removed party convener Binay Tamang from his post and revoked his decision to suspend the shutdown till September 12.