Didi to Centre: Don’t interfere

Declaring the ongoing indefinite bandh in the hills “illegal and unconstitutional,” West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday served a 72-hour deadline to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha to withdraw it or face the music.

Armed with the recent Calcutta high court order against the bandh in the hills, Ms Banerjee warned that the government would take strong action if the GJM leadership did not call off the bandh within the deadline. “For eight days they have imposed a complete shutdown on the hills. The schools and colleges are closed. They have even stopped the supply of ration. I have tolerated this for eight days but enough is enough. Now we will be forced to take strong action,” she said, adding that she had some constitutional obligations to abide by and the Calcutta high court had also given a clear order to restore normalcy in Darjeeling.
Reiterating her “I am very rough and tough” line, the chief minister asked the GJM bosses to withdraw the strike. She claimed that there had been a sharp erosion in their popularity due to the bandh. “In past two years, we had taken up various measures for the development of the hill. This cannot be ruined due to a section of political leaders in the hills who have lost their popularity. I thought after the visit of the home secretary, better sense would prevail with the political party,” she added, warning that if the bandh was not lifted within 72 hours, the government would clip the wings of any leader, no matter how tall. However, she did not name GJM president Mr Gurung even once.
She also asked the Centre not to interfere in the state’s affairs.
“Some political leaders of the Centre are interfering in this issue. It’s our matter and we will solve it. The Centre is pursuing a divide and rule policy. They should not break the state,” she said. She insinuated that the UPA was tacitly supporting the GJM leadership for Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat.
Reading out from the verdict of the Calcutta high court, Ms Banerjee said, “Bandhs cannot be organised affecting the day to day activities including the essential services; such calls are clearly illegal and unconstitutional. Moreover, no force or intimidation will be tolerated. Appropriate action against the person indulging in stoppage or obstruction of public transport should be taken.”
Ms Banerjee made it clear that Darjeeling was an integral part of Bengal and that the state could not divided.

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