GTA chief Bimal Gurung today urged an RSS leader to help in the creation of Gorkhaland and present the hill people's demands in Delhi.
|Bimal Gurung submits the memorandum to RSS leader Indresh Kumar in Darjeeling on Friday. (Suman Tamang)|
"What he speaks has a lot of weight. It is not like the speeches of any other leader. He is one of the main roots," Gurung said.
Kumar is in charge of the Muslim wing of the RSS called the Muslim Morcha. The RSS is the parent outfit of the BJP, with which the Morcha has an alliance.
Although, the Morcha gave a long list of demands, Kumar did not promise to fulfil all of them. Nor did he say anything clearly on Gorkhaland.
"Everyone has the right to demand. With the demand, you get privileges. What will happen in the future is unknown. You might get all that you have expected, you might even get a little less than what you had expected. None can talk about the future," Kumar said.
The GTA, along with the Delhi-based Nepali Sanskriti Parishad (International), today held a symposium at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan, titled " Nepali Sanskriti ani Sanskritik Birasat (Nepali culture and cultural heritage)".
Kumar was the chief guest at the symposium, where the content of his speech as well as Gurung's was more on politics than on culture.
Gurung submitted a memorandum to Kumar, listing the demands of the GTA, the autonomous hill body which the Morcha controls.
The memorandum, which was read out by Swaraj Thapa, the principal advisor to the GTA, said that even though the Morcha had accepted the GTA, "we (the party) are convinced that only a separate state of Gorkhaland can be the only solution for Darjeeling, Siliguri, Terai and Dooars".
The memorandum signed by Gurung also requested Kumar to take up various pending issues related to the GTA with the BJP in Delhi.
The demands included an increase in the special central package for the GTA from Rs 200 crore per annum to Rs 1,000 crore per annum for a period of five years.
Gurung has also demanded that the Centre give the funds directly to the GTA. At present, the Rs 200-crore annual grant is routed through the Bengal government.
The list of demands included the establishment of a central university in the hills, a central institute of technology, Sainik schools and a ministry for tea. The GTA also sought tribal status to 11 communities and withdrawal of "politically motivated" cases against the Morcha leadership.
"We would also want the Centre to grant a one-time financial assistance of Rs 100 crore for the Gorkhaland Financial Development Corporation to provide subsidy, tax waivers and soft loans to prospective investors," the memorandum read.
Kumar expressed his support for some of the demands. "I will put my weight behind the setting up of a central university and granting of tribal status. I have been told that certain Gorkha communities have been given the status and some others have not been. The status is about getting the privileges enshrined in the Constitution," he said.
A GTA team was in Delhi yesterday to seek from Union finance minister Arun Jaitley the Rs 100-crore grant for the Gorkhaland Financial Development Corporation. Darjeeling BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia, who had attended the discussions with Jaitley, said the finance minister's "response was good".
Kumar today said: "I feel in the next election, you will flow with the political wave that is sweeping India," hinting that the BJP would rise in Bengal as it had in other parts of the country. "I am hopeful that people of Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri will play a role."
In a jab at chief minister Mamata Banerjee, he said: "We don't believe in fighting but in working. She fights a lot, it has been a habit.... A person whose name is Mamata does not always have mamata (compassion). A person whose name has Sita and Ram is not always religious if Yechury is attached to the name."
Gurung said the Morcha would support the BJP at any cost in the Assembly elections. "We have to work hard in the 2016 election," Gurung said.
The Morcha chief said he believed that today's meeting was just the beginning, like "trailers of a movie".
"Indresh Kumarji is now the hero of the movie and I think he will remain so till the end," he said.