KOLKATA: The political situation in the Hills of West Bengal may receive an interesting twist with Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Shibu Soren visiting Darjeeling on Thursday with son and Jharkhand deputy chief minister Hemant Soren and other top leaders of the party. Soren plans to meet both Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) leaders during his stay in Darjeeling. The GJM and ABAVP may be adversaries in North Bengal but both have links with the JMM or its allies. While the ABAVP candidates used the JMM symbol to fight the 2011 Assembly elections in the state, the GJM supported the All Jharkhand Students’ Union (AJSU) during the Assembly elections in Jharkhand. The AJSU is an alliance partner of the JMM and BJP in Jharkhand and has leader Sudesh Mahato as one of the deputy chief ministers of the state. “The JMM supports any movement that is not anti-national in nature. Guruji (Shibu Soren) will meet GJM chief Bimal Gurung during his stay in Darjeeling to discuss the political situation there. He will also meet ABAVP leaders from the Terai and Dooars. Our party wants peace and prosperity of the tribal population in North Bengal. We shall also set up a committee for the workers of the tea gardens. At a later date, we plan to open our unit for the Adivasi-dominated areas there. If it is possible, Guruji will certainly try to broker peace between the two groups,” said JMM spokesperson Supriyo Bhattacharya.
GJM general secretary Roshan Giri acknowledged that a meeting has been scheduled with the JMM leadership. No specific agenda has been fixed though. “Let us meet and then decide on what issues the discussions should be held,” he said without writing off the possibility of political issues being discussed.
The Hills remained by and large peaceful for nearly a year after Mamata Banerjee came to power in West Bengal. The situation changed in the last few days with the state government announcing the recommendations of the Justice Shyamal Sen high-powered committee on adding more mouzas to the proposed Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA). In spite of reservations and threats of agitations from the Adivasi population in the Terai and Dooars, the GJM had demanded 398 mouzas. The committee recommended that only five can be part of the GTA. In retaliation, the GJM announced plans for a sustained agitation from July 2. Leaders also threatened to burn the GTA Agreement if the GJM’s demands are not met.
Unlike on previous occasions though, the GJM leadership is playing a wait and watch game this time round. None of the leaders have openly spoken out against the government and some of them have even said that they have faith in Mamata. The chief minister was to meet the GJM leaders on Thursday but the meeting was rescheduled to Saturday as Mamata had to leave for Delhi on Tuesday.
Political observers say that there is significance in the JMM-GJM meet but also cautioned the Hills leadership from taking everything that Soren or the others say at face value. “In fact, they should learn from the JMM how a movement should not be run. The JMM carved out Jharkhand from Bihar and set an example for others. Several years down the line, the political situation in Jharkhand is in complete chaos and the people’s aspirations haven’t been met,” one of them said.Courtesy:TheTimesofIndia.