Referring to the statehood demand, Sinha, a national secretary of the BJP, told a modest gathering at Chowk Bazar: "There is this politics of separation in the hills. How can brothers be separated from brothers? We will never allow this separation."
Later, he told a section of the media: "We want to make it clear that we do not support the demand for Gorkhaland. We did not support it in the past, we are not supporting it now and we will not support it in the future. The issue in Darjeeling is about development."
The Morcha, none of whose leaders attended the BJP rally despite being invited, dubbed Sinha's comments as his "personal statements". Morcha leader Roshan Giri, who is in Delhi along with party chief Bimal Gurung to participate in a three-day dharna for Gorkhaland, said: "That is his (Sinha's) personal statement. The BJP's central leadership is supportive of the demand."
The Morcha officially said most top leaders were in Delhi, so none from the party could attend the rally. Sources in the hill party, however, said on condition of anonymity said that the Morcha stayed away from the meeting because it was aware of Sinha's views on the statehood demand.
|"BJP Does Not Support Gorkhaland Demand"|
- Rahul Sinha former Bengal BJP president
The central leadership of the BJP, however, has never directly supported the Gorkhaland demand. The party's manifesto for the 2014 polls mentioned that the BJP would "appropriately consider and sympathetically examine the long-pending problems of the Gorkhas".
Bengal BJP leaders today said if the state leadership supported the Gorkhaland demand, it would amount to committing "political suicide" as it would alienate the party from the rest of the state. Other than political outfits in the hills, all other parties have opposed the statehood demand.
A Bengal BJP leader said: "How can a state party leader support the separation of Bengal? It would amount to committing political suicide. Even the central leadership has not committed itself to Gorkhaland and merely said it would sympathetically examine the problems of the Gorkhas."
Another BJP leader said Ahluwalia was not as "diplomatic" as Jawant Singh, the BJP's former Darjeeling MP who too had got the Morcha's support. "We should not take everything Ahluwalia says very seriously."
Speaking to The Telegraph this evening, Sinha tried to explain the reasons behind his comment on the Gorkhaland issue. "Lack of development in the area, both under the Left and the Trinamul regimes, is the main reason behind the demand for a separate state. So, development is needed more than a separate state. Whatever I said was in the interest of the state and this has been the stand of the party."
Told that Ahluwalia had supported the Morcha demand, Sinha said: "Ahluwalia is not the party.... It is true that the BJP and the Morcha fought the elections together. We have an understanding with them on all issues except this one and there is nothing wrong in having differences over one or two issues."