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TMC says BJP leader behind Darjeeling stir

LiveMint logoLiveMint 21-06-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: The Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are trading charges over the Darjeeling unrest, after a cabinet minister in West Bengal said a BJP leader had instigated violence in the hills and should resign.

Partha Chatterjee, West Bengal minister for education and parliamentary affairs, said on Wednesday that a “particular BJP leader” with interest in the hills was instigating violence. He, however, declined to name the person.

People close to Chatterjee, however, said he was referring to S.S. Ahluwalia, BJP MP from Darjeeling. These people asked not to be identified. Ahluwalia has been vocal about the oppression of Gorkhas, and helped leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha get an audience with Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

"The Trinamool Congress is trying to shift the blame to the Centre to divert attention"- Dilip Ghosh, West Bengal BJP president

The BJP, though, maintains that it does not support the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The Trinamool Congress is trying to shift the blame to the Centre to divert attention, said Dilip Ghosh, BJP’s state president for West Bengal. The unrest was the result of a provocation from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, and she is the one who should resign, Ghosh said.

The BJP, along with the Congress and the Left parties, will not attend Thursday’s all-party meeting over the agitation in Darjeeling. The meeting is to be chaired by additional chief secretary (home and hill affairs) Malay Kumar De. The Gorkha outfits have already said they would not engage in discussion with the state government.

The Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, said the chief minister herself should have presided over the meeting. “It is meaningless to hold talks when the chief minister herself was travelling abroad,” said a spokesperson for the CPM.

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The invitation should have come from the chief minister who is also the state’s minister for home, said Adhir Ranjan Choudhury, the state Congress president.

BJP’s Ghosh said the party hadn’t received any official correspondence from the state.

Meanwhile, the state is likely to submit in the Calcutta high court on Thursday a report assessing the loss due to the strike and the arson in Darjeeling on 8 June. The loss has been estimated at around Rs150 crore, according to home department officials, who asked not to be named.

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