Mamata’s proposal of separate Lepcha council irks Gurung

After ruling out division of West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday hinted at formation of a separate development body for Lepchas and Buddhists, prompting GJM chief Bimal Gurung to allege that she was trying to drive a wedge among communities in the region.

The hint came during a visit to Alagarh in Kalimpong sub-division where she talked to representatives of the local Lepcha community. The chief minister also visited a Buddhist monastery in Lava and talked to the monks there where she reiterated her proposal for a separate development council (for Lepchas and Buddhists), sources close to her said.

"She is trying to set a divide-and-rule policy for the Hills. She is discriminating between the Lepchas and the Gorkhas," said Gurung, who had agreed to the GTA following a recent tripartite agreement but is now demanding a separate Gorkhaland state taking a cue from Telangana stir.

The Lepchas, considered the original inhabitants of the Hills, make up 20 per cent of its population. The formation of a Lepcha development council was a long-standing demand to which the Mamata Banerjee-led government has agreed in principle. The Lepchas have no territorial demand and want the council to be formed to preserve the community's culture and work for its general uplift.

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