West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today asserted that Darjeeling
Hills would remain part of West Bengal, even as a section of Gorkha Janmukti
Morcha supporters raised slogans demanding a separate state during inauguration
of North Bengal Festival.
"Let us remain together, Darjeeling is part of Bengal and we will remain
together," Banerjee said at a colourful programme at the picturesque Mall
here in the presence of GJM president and Gorkhaland Territorial Authority (GTA)
chief executive Bimal Gurung.
"There should not be further trouble as that would hamper development
again," she said while addressing the gathering.
But things went awry as a section of GJM supporters raised slogans and displayed
posters demanding Gorkhaland at the fag end of her brief address.
A visibly angry Banerjee stood up and warned protesters not to raise such
political slogans at the programme and asked them to do so at party forum.
"Please remember this is not a party programme, this is a government
programme. I am very rough and tough in such issues," the chief minister
"You are free to give political slogans at party programmes, but this is a
government programme and such slogans cannot be raised here," she said.
"Please do not give wrong message so that people will think Darjeeling is
again going for problem," Banerjee said as Gurung sat beside her on the
Banerjee then left the stage and went on to sit among the spectators even as the
GJM supporters were waving their green, white and yellow-coloured party flags.
Earlier, addressing the gathering, the chief minister said, "I have come to
Darjeeling as no one in the last 20 years came here."
Referring to the previous Left Front government's alleged failure to ensure
development of the Darjeeling Hills and failure of the then chief minister to
visit the area, Banerjee said, "If Darjeeling remains peaceful, development
work will continue and employment will be generated."
Nothing had happened in previous several years except for politics, she said.
Asserting that the Hills will remain within West Bengal, she said several new
tourist spots like Lamahata or Sandakfu had been developed or were being decked
"Helipads, airports and other world class facilities will be made available
and after that tourists from all over the world will flock to Darjeeling,"
She announced that Rs 80 crore had been sanctioned for National Highway 55, the
lifeline to the hills from Siliguri in the plains.
Also two hydro-power projects were coming up at Teesta and Rimbhi besides
various development activities in Darjeeling and other hill sub-divisions of
Kurseong and Kalimpong, she said.
"There should not be further trouble as that would stop development
again," Banerjee cautioned.
"Darjeeling should remain peaceful, I have been hearing some things for
some time, but I want to tell you that peace be maintained for
development," she said referring to the GJM's fresh attempt at raising the
GTA, a semi-autonomous body for Darjeeling Hills, was formed in 2012 in a
tripartite agreement involving the Centre, West Bengal government and the GJM.
The first election to the body was won by the GJM.
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