Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Friday went an extra mile to convey the message to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership that she doesn't want to do politics in the Hills, nor does she have any intention to grab the territory of the Hill people. This despite the fact that she has fielded 16 candidates against GJM for the July 29 Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) elections.
Her announcement comes a day after GJM bagged most of the seats uncontested following the CPM's pulling out of the fray. The GJM president also criticized the Trinamool's decision to contest the GTA poll. Gurung held that it was going against the GTA agreement that gave greater autonomy to the Hill people in running the new body.
In a bid to assuage the GJM leadership, Mamata rose above party politics at Kalimpong and said she was not interested in political conflict in the Hills. "I don't want to do politics in the Hills. I don't have any intention to take advantage of any political rift either. I won't grab your land. I only want the Hill people to take up development projects in a better way," the CM said.
She took this opportunity to reiterate in the public meeting that the Hills and its people are an important part of Bengal. Mamata was successful in her mission because GJM president Bimal Gurung and other leaders later met her in the Kalimpong Circuit House to discuss the development roadmap. The GJM will also send a delegation to Kolkata on July 21 to attend the martyrs' day rally of the Trinamool Congress at Esplanade.
In presence of GJM leaders Roshan Giri, Harka Bahadur Chhetri and others, Mamata said: "I am very happy that GTA has been formed. Soon after the election, GTA will get Rs 200 crore fund for development. But development won't come without peace.
I have come to know that tourists are coming to Darjeeling. Many tourists didn't even get a hotel room. They had to spend the night on the streets.
It means more money for the Hill people. We are planning to boost home tourism and also set more trekking huts at Sandakphu."
As part of her plan to integrate the culture of the Hills with the plains, the CM announced her government's decision to celebrate the 198th birth centenary of Nepali poet Bhanu Bhakta Acharya both in the Hills and the plains. Migrant Nepalese Association (India) also celebrated Bhanu Bhakta's centenary in Kolkata in presence of Nepal's consul general in Kolkata Chandra Kumar Ghimiri.
The CM also announced setting up of a Nepali language academy in the lines of the Lepcha Development Council. Development of the Hills and uplift of its culture and heritage gained top priority to the CM.
The chief minister said, "Soon after the election, GTA will get Rs 200 crore for development. But development won't come without peace."
She, however, isn't leaving it to the GTA alone. "I will come again and again to see how the development works are going on. I want to see in my own eyes.
I want to see the Hills smiling," the CM said, dropping clear hints that she won't compromise with development.
After the public meeting, Mamata took time off her schedule to pay a visit GJM MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri's home at Chandraloke before she left for the Kalimpong Circuit House. There, Gurung and other leaders are likely to discuss with her issues related to the presidential and vice-presidential polls.