From being a tribal leader to a Union minister, BJP MP John Barla has come a long way. He was sworn in as the Minister of State in the Ministry of Minority Affairs on Wednesday.
Barla, 45, had recently demanded separate statehood or Union Territory status for north Bengal.
After taking charge as Minister of State for Minority Affairs, he said the people of Bengal are scared of the state government and that peace will come through development and the Centre will bring an environment of peace.
While talking to News18, he declined to make any comment on his previous statement seeking bifurcation of the state. He said, “I don’t want to comment on it. Now, I would like to work for the benefit of the masses. I will work towards the fulfillment of the demands of the people of north Bengal. Nobody can suppress the demands of the masses.”
He alleged that the people of West Bengal are not getting benefits of central schemes, and as Union minister, he would strive to ensure that people get these benefits. “We want peace to return to West Bengal. The central schemes should be implemented,” he said.
On Thursday, state BJP president Dilip Ghosh denied TMC charges that the BJP was backing the statehood demand raised by its two MPs. Ghosh reiterated that the BJP does not support the division of the state.
“We do not support any division of West Bengal. We do not want to see our state divided. The party leadership and Prime Minister Narendra Modi felt that John Barla would make a good minister and can work for the people. This is the reason why he has been made a Union minister,” Ghosh said.
Even as Barla was being sworn in, Bengal parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee said, “BJP is a curious party. They make a person who wants to divide West Bengal a minister.”
Last month, Barla had made the demand of carving out north Bengal from West Bengal, alleging a lack of development in the region.
“I raised the demand for North Bengal to be declared a Union Territory. I will take this matter up with Delhi (leadership)… Post-poll violence is continuing unabated in West Bengal. Some local panchayat members have come to me to take shelter, escaping atrocities of the ruling party. This is the reason why I had demanded a separate state in north Bengal,” Barla had then said.