VIVEK CHHETRI-Darjeeling, Nov. 26: Mahendra P. Lama, who will be contesting for the Lok Sabha polls as an Independent, today said that the word Gorkhaland should not be used while demanding a separate state.
During the inauguration of an office of the Darjeeling-Dooars United Development Foundation here, which has been set up by Lama and his supporters, he said: “At the moment we are only stating that we need a separate state. We will give a name to the statehood demand at an appropriate time.”
Till date, the demand of statehood has been synonymous with the name Gorkhaland, which was coined by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh in 1980. Since then, all political and social parties in the hills have been demanding a separate state with the name Gorkhaland.
Lama, however, said: “We have been talking to people from every community, be it Gorkhas, Adivasis, Marwaris and even the Bengalis. Everyone from this region wants a state but they have their own reasons.”
The former vice-chancellor of Sikkim University added: “While the Gorkhas want a separate state for their identity (to differentiate themselves from the Nepali speaking people from Nepal), the Adivasis want it to safeguard their language and culture. The Marwari community wants statehood so that the business potentials are further strengthened as this region is surrounded by four international borders. Even the members of the Bengali community want a separate state so that there is a bigger playing field for Indian politics.”
Lama said the foundation: “is born out of the need to enhance the level of consciousness, and standard of debate and discourse on politics, development and environment, educational, professional and other critical issues that concern the Darjeeling district and Dooars region of today.”