Writes Dushyant Chettri
A recent Facebook update by a dear friend from Calcutta got me thinking. I shall begin this article by quoting him. Mr. Ranabir Lahiri, for whose intellect I have a great deal of respect had this to say today as his status:
“The decision to hold the cabinet meeting in Darjeeling is power gone mad, arrogating to itself the right to hegemonize the spaces historically contested by the three major actors - the Chogyal of Sikkim, the Gorkhas of Nepal, and the British East India Company. Bengal and Bengalees had never been in the picture. The decision betrays an insensitive use of political authority, a poor mimicry of our colonial administration that used the hill stations [Darjeeling, Simla, Ooty] as summer capitals.
Didi's Darj policies are symptomatic of the average Bengali mindset about the hills, marked by a sense of entitlement and ownership over a landscape, without ever being a part of its history and geography. How can you lose something when you never had it! Honestly speaking, as I head straight north from Siliguri, within half an hour of my drive I distinctly perceive a change - the weather, the food, the features of men and women who pass by, and the language they speak.”
Drawing upon Ranabir Sir’s argument, I would like to add that this isn’t just an example of “power gone mad,” rather it is part of a very well though-out and much larger game-plan. What the Bengal Government is now attempting to do, in a way perhaps the CPIM too never dreamt, is an eventual colonization of the Darjeeling hills. As much as we would like to believe not, the CM is an extremely clever strategist, and all her decisions aren’t impulsive at all, but clearly motivated. Let me enlist a few examples here:
1) As mentioned in Mr. Lahiri’s status, the decision to hold a Cabinet Meeting in Darjeeling, something which has not happened since British times.
2) Attempting to impose the Bengali language, successfully resisted, on the predominantly Nepali-speaking populace here (even then the fact that it may be retained as fourth optional is worrisome!)
3) Very slyly pumping in money into various development boards and effectively fracturing the Gorkha identity along the lines of caste and ethnicity.
4) Creation of Kalimpong district and splitting of Jalpaiguri district into Cooch Behar district, in effect, actually re-distributing the Nepali speaking and other adivasi areas of the Dooars, rendering them a minority, and by extension, increasing and ensuring the dominance of the Bengali populace.
5) Most importantly, rendering the GTA completely ineffective and powerless. The recent audit that she has announced for the GTA funds is also part of the same game plan. By refusing to divest powers and give full constitutional autonomy to the GTA, she has already rendered it pretty much dysfunctional. The timing of the audit, too, is telling, as it is clearly designed to once and for all, nullify whatever little power rests with the GTA.
These signs, read together, present an extremely ominous future. The Bengal government is very slowly and very slyly putting the age-old colonial machinery into place, by creating gradual in-roads into Darjeeling and Dooars. Dooars has already fallen within that trap. Following the exact British modality of establishing colonial supremacy over predominantly tribal areas, the Bengal government is splitting places into separate administrative districts and re-shuffling of the populace. In Darj, it is deploying the local people to achieve its cunning, nefarious design. Please be extremely careful, as none of this is a sudden, impulsive move! It is part of a much larger, much more nefarious attempt of eventual and complete colonization of Darjeeling by Bengal and shifting the control of power entirely to Calcutta.
Mirik, too, has unfortunately fallen within this trap. Choose anyone, GJMM or otherwise, but by giving an in-road to TMC, what people are actually doing is becoming pawns, chess pieces, within this larger game plan.
The CM has more or less control over the rest of Bengal, apart from the Darjeeling hills, and she is well aware that for the next ten years at least, nothing can dethrone her. The only place left to gain control over is the Darjeeling hills, a move for which she seems utterly and entirely desperate, as proven by her recurring visits.
Do not be fooled by her artificial empathy, do not be fooled by the Bhanu Jayanti celebrations (for which the posters where in Bengali!), read the ominous signs and think for yourselves! Unless Bengal’s larger game plan is understood and checked now, thirty years down the line, this will have serious repercussions and render your own Gorkhali people as mere puppets, or worse still, as minority in your own land!!!