BJP Not for Gorkhaland, But Favours Model Akin to Karbi-Anglong of Assam
The GJM seems to have firmed up its stand after inputs from the state unit which indicate any position to the contrary may cost BJP in the plains. (Image: PTI)
Concerns over party’s prospects in South Bengal have forced BJP to baulk short of conceding to any demands for a division of West Bengal for the creation of the separate hill state of Gorkhaland.
Delhi: Concerns over party’s prospects in South Bengal have forced BJP to baulk short of conceding to any demands for a division of West Bengal for the creation of the separate hill state of Gorkhaland.
“We are not in favour of a separate state of Gorkhaland. But we want to protect the Gorkha identity and culture and address their developmental concerns. The state government should take the initiative," BJP General Secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya told reporters in Delhi on Tuesday.
The party seems to have firmed up its stand after inputs from the state unit which indicate any position to the contrary may cost BJP in the plains.
For a national party, especially one trying to find a toehold in the West Bengal politics, it is an unenviable situation. Any polarisation which pitches Hills vs the plains practically translates to 1.8 million Nepali speaking people versus 90 million Bangla speakers; 1 Lok Sabha seat as against 41 seats; a mere half a dozen Assembly segments vs 294 in the rest of the state.
BJP has been in the last two years attempting to expand its political footprint in the state to emerge as the main opposition to the ruling TMC.
Any stand in favour of Gorkhaland may jeopardize party’s plans for the eastern state where it aims to pick seats in the next general elections as a part of larger strategy to offset any losses in provinces where it has already peaked.
BJP leaders, however, insist that opposition to the division of West Bengal is based on a considered view of the geo-political position of the districts abutting three international borders.
“Also it comprises sub-division of a few districts. As a state it may not be viable,” says another BJP leader.
The party though is open to granting further autonomy to the region with ‘Karbi-Anglong Model’ of Assam as one of the options.
Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha (GJM) which is leading the separate statehood movement is a long-standing ally of the BJP. BJP MP and Union minister S S Ahluwalia won last Lok Sabha election from Darjeeling with GJM support. So did former Finance Minister Jaswant Singh in 2009.
In its manifesto for 2014 general elections, BJP stated it will “sympathetically examine and appropriately consider the long-pending demands of the Gorkhas, the Adivasis and other people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars region; of the Kamtapuri, Rajbongshi and other people of North Bengal (including recognition of their language)”.