Scheduled Tribe to Gorkhas will lend more power to BJP in Darjeeling Hill

Apr 9 2016 In the midst of the assembly elections, the Centre has taken a bow in the direction of an ethnic segment with its decision to accord the status of Scheduled Tribe to as many as eleven Gorkha groups in West Bengal and Sikkim. In effect, the Government has conceded a major demand of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The BJP government’s move is arguably intended to undercut the influence of the ruling party in West Bengal where the Hills go to the polls on 17 April. Small wonder that the “Centre’s order” has been greeted by the GJM as a “tight slap on state policy”. The swipe was obviously against the setting up of separate development boards for different hill tribes, indeed the state government’s public policy plank that the GJM has debunked as “divide and rule”. Beyond that subjective reflection, the morcha must concede that Mamata Banerjee’s decision to put in place the Gorkha Territorial Authority was an attempt to address a volatile issue that has been festering for exactly three decades. It envisages a measure of self-rule, short of statehood. Sad to reflect, the likes of Bimal Gurung are yet to initiate an earnest effort to give the GTA experiment a try. The decision on ST status for Gorkhas will almost certainly lend more power to the elbow of the BJP in Darjeeling, which in 2014 had elected the party to the Lok Sabha.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung
during BJP election campaign
The GJMM is known to play the political card to suit its convenience. “Our alliance with the BJP is slowly bearing fruit,” was Mr Gurung’s immediate response, couched in “thank you” letters to Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, Amit Shah, and the tribal affairs minister, Jual Oram. As critical as the societal underpinning has been the calculated timing of the decision that was announced in Delhi 48 hours before the first phase of the elections in the predominantly tribal belt of Junglemahal and a fortnight ahead of the vote in a restive and ethnically sensitive region of West Bengal.

Predictably, Sikkim has welcomed the move as a “step towards correction of a historical injustice”. The initiative to fix the ST tag on eleven Gorkha groups would have raised no cavil had the Centre not been so impervious to similar demands raised by at least 100 hill tribes in Odisha, Assam, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. The tribes do expect a measure of uniformity in according the ST status, and the Centre’s promptitude in Darjeeling needs to be mirrored in the treatment in other states as well. Not least because certain class groups had been “scheduled” as hill tribes in the 1930 census, but were somehow not included in the list of STs after Independence. Others had lost the status as they had migrated to other states. Regretfully, the Centre’s calibrated approach has been selective.

Via The Statesman

Share this:

Post a Comment

Copyright © Indian Gorkhas. Designed by Darjeeling Web Solutions