Firm Didi’s soft response

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday tried to assuage Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, a day after the outfit's president Bimal Gurung threatened to launch a "militant" stir to push for its Gorkhaland statehood demand.

Though she reiterated that she would not allow the division of West Bengal, the Chief Minister said as a political party, the GJM has every right to resort to agitation for their demands. "The people of Darjeeling have every right to take to the streets. All political parties do it. We also did it. But I'm sure that it would not lead to bloodshed,'' she told mediapersons in Siliguri as she concluded her two-day tour of Hills.

Mamata said pro-Gorkhaland slogans are nothing new to the people of the Hills and they had heard it in the past also. "They (the GJM) feel that if they do not raise the slogan their party will cease to exist," she said.

Clarifying her statement, which she had made at a public event in Darjeeling town two days ago where she said that would be rough and tough, the Chief Minister today said that she meant was that she could be tough so far as running the administration was concerned.

On Gurung's charge that her government was pursuing a "divide and rule" policy for the hills after she proposed setting up separate development councils for the Lepchas and Buddhists, Mamata said neither her government nor the GJM will resort to divide and rule policy. However, she asserted that her government would go ahead with setting up of separate development councils for Lepchas and Buddhist communities. "The GJM may have some grudges, but they will forget it. We will form such a council. It has been mentioned in the GTA agreement. We will form a similar council for the Buddhists. We want all to keep well. We are for overall development of Darjeeling," she said.

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