SEPARATE STATEHOOD LEADERS PUT BJP-LED CENTRE IN QUANDARY

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NFNS President Shrihari Aney urged the central government to take the movement for separate statehood seriously and find a solution. — PTI

The group emphatically said the demands for separate states cannot be wished away by the government.

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI —  At a time when the BJP-led government is grappling with the farmers’ agitation across the country, a group of leaders under the banner of the National Federation for New States (NFNS) on Saturday put it in a fix over the demand of creating new smaller states.

The group emphatically said the demands for separate states cannot be wished away by the government.

Extending its support to the ongoing agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland, the NFNS leaders made it clear that “the buck stops at the ruling party’s doorstep.”

Addressing a joint press conference, the NFNS leaders said the problems in Gorkhaland, Vidarbha, Bundelkhand or Bodoland, Tripura land and Purvanchal have only one solution and that is the creation of these states.

NFNS President Shrihari Aney warned the BJP-led government to take the movement for separate statehood seriously and find a solution. “The Gorkhas have been demanding their own state for over 110 years. It is longer than Vidarbha’s 80-year-old or Bundelkhand’s 60-year-old demands. The opposition of the West Bengal government is to be expected, but the Central government’s approach to the problem of Gorkhaland is both neglectful and self-serving: political gain being the underlying note.”

Aney urged the government not to equate the movement with the death of people as had happened during the formation of Telangana, where over 2,200 people died in the movement demanding a separate state.

“It is condemnable that the government decides to take action only after people have died in the demand for a separate state,” Aney said.

Attacking the BJP, another Gorkha leader Munish Tamang said the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) had supported the BJP in two Lok Sabha elections and now it is payback time for the party, which is in power at the Centre.

He said the Gorkha agitation in the 80s, when 1,200 people lost their lives, was attempted to be sidelined by the creation of the Darjeeling – Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) by a 1988 Act of West Bengal legislature. “The subsequent Memorandum of Settlement of December 6, 2005 to set up the Gorkha Hill Council in place of the DGHC by including it in the Constitution’s Sixth Schedule, was again not taken seriously by the Bengal government and it took them two years before it was brought to Parliament in 2007,” he added.

Both the leaders said the Gorkhas had sensed the insincerity of the government and had also realized that no arrangement could replace the long standing demand for a separate statehood.

They pointed out that people comprehensively rejected the proposal to grant Darjeeling the Sixth Schedule Status as the tripartite agreement of July 18, 2011 between the GJM, the state and Central government, converted into an Act, led to the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

“Despite the grant of administrative and financial powers, the absence of legislative power proved to be an unacceptable solution. Today, the people have again rejected the GTA as an inadequate tool to represent the aspirations of the people. On June 20, an All-Party meeting in Darjeeling that included the GJM unanimously rejected the GTA and Sabhasads of GTA have already submitted their resignations,” they added.

“The NFNS believes that the people’s right to self-determination is the clearest validation of the statehood demand,” said the leaders.

After the end of the British rule, the map of Indian states was drawn disregarding the States Reorganization Commission recommendation, and keeping political interests in view, and not the interests of the diverse people and cultures that comprise this nation, NFNS underlined.

The federation said the history of creation of new states of Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland or Telangana has “often been bloody”. Even today, the persistent demands for full statehood by the people of Gorkhaland, Vidharbha, Bundelkhand, Bodoland or Delhi, amongst others, are ignored.

Bollywood actor and Federation’s Working President Raja Bundella said the attack on mother tongue and identity of the Gorkhas was not acceptable.

He urged the government to decide its future course of action with regard to formation of new states.

The federation said the BJP government has sufficient numbers to bring a legislation regarding formation of new states. The constitutional provision to deal with deep rooted regional imbalance in the form of the Development Boards or Hill or Tribal or Territorial Area Councils under Article 371 and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution have failed to deliver economic or political equality to these regions.

“Such Constitutional exercises are expensive, time consuming and futile. The only solution is action warranted under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of India, in the form of an Act of Parliament passed by simple majority,” added the NFNS leaders.

The leaders said the demands for statehood cannot be wished away, adding that nor will they disappear with the illusory promise of development or regional equality.

Other federation leaders including Pramod Boro of Bodoland, P Niroop Reddy,  Sandip Chhetri of AGS  and Dhirendra  Boro of Bodoland also addressed the media.

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