Mixed reaction to BJP’s tribal and other pledges

Tue, Apr 9, 2019

Our Correspondent
Political parties supporting the BJP in the Darjeeling parliamentary constituency have hailed the decision of the saffron party to provide tribal status to the 11 Gorkha communities and also try and find a permanent political solution to the problem of the hills, but the Trinamul Congress (TMC) and its ally, the Binay Tamang faction of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, have termed them as false promises.
In its national election manifesto released today, the BJP has said if its government comes to power at the Centre, it would recognise the 11 left out Gorkha communities as Scheduled Tribes and also expressed its commitment to work towards finding a permanent political solution to the issue of Darjeeling Hills, Siliguri, Terai and the Dooars region.
“The BJP manifesto clearly states that the 11 Gorkha communities will be granted tribal status and a permanent political solution to the problem in the hills will be found. The manifesto also mentions that minimum wages will be implemented. We welcome all of these because they have been our party’s demands as well,” said Sandip Limbu, a GNLF leader.
Ajay Edwards, another GNLF leader, said his party had made it very clear to the BJP that the permanent political solution should not be anything short of Sixth Schedule. “We are, however, fine with anything above it, which could also be granting Union Territory status to the hills,” he said.
The Bimal Gurung faction of the Morcha said the BJP manifesto reveals that the BJP is concerned about the harsh realities facing the Gorkhas. “The inclusion of the 11 left out Gorkha tribes as STs will cement their place as being indigenous to our nation. Its commitment to finding a permanent political solution to our decades-long demand is also very significant,” said Roshan Giri, the Bimal faction leader is a release issued on social media.
The Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist Party (CPRM), which is also backing the BJP candidate in Darjeeling, said earlier manifestoes of the BJP were vague on the Gorkha issues, but this time the party has given a clear commitment. “We were given such an assurance by the Bengal leaders of the BJP. We are glad our issues find mention in the manifesto. This will enable our candidate to raise the issues in parliament,” said Gobind Chettri, the CPRM spokesperson.
The Binay faction of the Morcha and the TMC, however, said the manifesto betrays the fact that the BJP was not in favour of granting Gorkhaland, which fundamentally is the main political demand of the Gorkhas. “In its earlier manifestoes, the BJP had used the words long-pending demand of the Gorkhas, which meant Gorkhaland. However, it has omitted those words suggesting thereby that it is not interested in granting statehood,” said Keshav Raj Pokhrel, a Morcha leader.
Pokhrel said there was no way the BJP could be trusted to deliver on its pledge to grant tribal status to the 11 Gorkha communities because its government at the Centre had not acted on the recommendation of the Bengal government to give such a status.
TMC (Hills) leader N.B. Khawas, too, said the omission of the words “long-pending demand” betrays how serious the BJP is to the cause of Gorkhaland. “The manifesto does not even mention Sixth Schedule.
It mentions granting tribal status to the Gorkhas, but the Registrar General of India had recently in a report stated that granting this would only increase the influx of people from Nepal.  Is the BJP willing to rectify this report? We can’t trust the BJP,” he added.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi