Siliguri (West Bengal) : Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh’s expulsion from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will not affect the movement for a separate Gorkhaland state to be carved out of West Bengal, according to leaders of the movement here.
“I don’t think Singh’s expulsion from the party would affect our movement for a separate Gorkhaland state in the region. Besides Singh, other BJP leaders have already spoken about this issue in parliament and people are now very much aware of this demand,” Amar Singh Rai, a Gorkha academic, told IANS.
He said the BJP had already included the Gorkhaland demand in their agenda and other senior leaders were raising the issue at the national level also.
Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) president Madan Taman also said: “It will not affect our movement.”
Jaswant Singh, who has held defence, finance and external affairs portfolios in BJP-led governments, was expelled for his controversial book praising Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah, “Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence”.
“Jaswant Singh is now free of party fetters. This development is a boon and not a bane for the Gorkhaland movement. He can now use his immense contacts at the national level for furthering our cause,” Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) central committee member and publicity secretary, told IANS.
Chhetri said the BJP cannot backtrack on its stand of supporting the creation of Gorkhaland as the issue figured in the party’s election manifesto.
“We supported Jaswant Singh only because the BJP nominated him. If the BJP had named any other candidate we would have gone all out to ensure his victory also. So, our relations with the BJP will also not be affected,” he said.
The GJM, spearheading the demand for a Gorkhaland out of Darjeeling and some adjacent areas in West Bengal, ensured Jaswant Singh’s victory from Darjeeling in the general elections this April-May.
GJM leaders said they were happy with the progress of the recent third round of tri-partite talks in Delhi.
“The result of this round of tri-partite talks is positive. We will continue our negotiations with the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government at the centre,” Chhetri said.