Darjeeling: A desperate GJM leadership on Sunday dispatched three of its MLAs directly to chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s Kalighat residence, pleading for an invite to her meeting with Hills parties in Siliguri on Tuesday.
Amar Singh Rai, the GJM MLA from Darjeeling, said a request letter had been sent to the CM to allow the Hills MLAs to attend the bipartite talks on September 12. “On Saturday, on behalf of the party, we (the three MLAs) wrote a letter to the chief minister requesting that we be called for the meeting in Siliguri, as we are representatives of the people of the Hills,” he said, without elaborating further.
The three MLAs’ visit to Banerjee’s home came a few hours after rebel leader Binay Tamang said there would be a seven-member delegation at the meeting from his side. Tamang attended the first round of talks with the CM in Kolkata in end-August as a GJM representative and was later expelled from the party.
He has also challenged GJM chief Bimal Gurung by saying he’ll start an indefinite fast if the official GJM delegation fails to extract any substantial promise on Gorkhaland from the state government.
“I have heard that the state government has given me an invitation for the September 12 talks as the chief coordinator of the GJM party. We will have a seven-member delegation, whose names I will announce on Monday,” Tamang said.
Tamang said that apart from the separate state demand, issues including compensation to the families of those who died in the ongoing agitation, withdrawal of cases against the agitators and release of GJM leaders and supporters would be taken up with the Bengal government.
The letter to the CM comes after a Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (GMCC) delegation met Rajnath Singh in Delhi on Friday but returned without getting anything from the Union home minister except an assurance “to take up the tripartite talks issue with the Bengal CM”. GMCC has been demanding that the state government invite them for talks, as they are leading the statehood agitation. The state government, however, has been reluctant to recognize the committee.
CPRM said it didn’t received any invitation for the September 12 meeting. “However, going for the talks, where issues like peace and development will be discussed, won’t serve our purpose. We want the talk to only focus on Gorkhaland,” said Govind Chhetri, party spokesperson. The All India Gorkha League said it would hold a central committee meeting on Monday to take a decision, but said it also didn’t receive any invitation.
Tamang confidant and GJM rebel leader Anit Thapa on Sunday arrived to a rousing welcome in Kurseong. He said: “Cops must stop arresting Gorkhaland supporters participating in peaceful agitations. Else, we”ll not attend the meeting with state government. The talks should open doors for a tripartite meeting, failing which I’ll go on a hunger strike.”