A Welcome Step: Historic Alliance of GJM and GNLF in Darjeeling Hills

GJMM and GNLF

In politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, but only political interest and electoral alliance. In a rare example of ‘rising above politics’, arch rivals GJM and GNLF have decided to fight the 2019 Elections together with an objective to pursue a permanent solution for Gorkhaland issue.

The electoral alliance has been formed keeping in mind the interest and well-being of the people in Darjeeling. The coming together of GNLF and GJMM after a decade of political separation has taken everyone by surprise.

The alliance is a welcome step for the voters and the coming together of the two political heavyweights will be over to win it very the people who betrayed the aspirations of the Hills. “Burying the bitterness of the past and moving forward with the core issue is the best thing we can wish for Gorkhaland‘ remarked an observer.

We must keep in mind that this is just an electoral alliance formed with the primary objective of serving the overall interest of the hill communities including the people living in Terai and Dooars. Therefore, it should be our fundamental duty to show our support at this critical juncture. This is the time to stand up against those who connived with the state government to subvert the Gorkhaland demand, which is our democratic and constitutional right.

GNLF GJMM Gorkhaland
GNLF GJMM Joint Press Conference in Delhi

Looking at the fast-changing political equations at the national level, it can be safely assumed that there is no alternative to the Narendra Modi-led NDA, and that BJP and its alliance partners are here to stay for yet another fruitful term. At this juncture it would be a Himalayan miscalculation to support a proxy state party whose very objective is to suppress and subjugate all democratic voices arising from the hills, trying to keep us in a state of perpetual slavery.

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BJP government, though sympathetic to our demands, did not keep its promise which it had made in the 2015 lok sabha elections of ” fulfilling the long cherished demands of the Gorkhas”. So the most obvious question one would ask is ” Why should we support them now?

The most logical and pragmatic answer to this question is “we have no choice”. Our demands cannot be fulfilled staying inimical with the government at the center. Every constitutional demand be it Statehood, 6th schedule, Union Territory, or for that matter granting of Schedule tribe status to the 11 Hill communities; everything has to go through central governments approval and the state have a limited role to play.

At such a situation, though emotions demand otherwise, we cannot afford a bellicose relationship with the future central government which is bound to be BJP-lead NDA. We have to swallow the bitter pill.

GNLF under the leadership of Mann Ghising, Neeraj Zimba, and Ajoy Edwards has demonstrated exemplary leadership quality, farsightedness, and political acumen. By setting aside the past inter-party rivalry and ideological differences, they have offered a hand of friendship and is now ready to work with its one-time political adversary GJMM for the greater good and interest of the hills, Tarai and Dooars.

We should not forget that both of these young leaders, were in the past subjected to harsh public sanctions. Maan Ghising was not allowed to perform the final death rites of his father and Ajoy Edward’s restaurant was vandalized. Despite such bitter experiences, both of them have decided to burry their past for good and move ahead for the betterment of our people.

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We have to realize the fact that the long cherished dream to statehood or 6th schedule can only be achieved through a political settlement with the central government. The constitution of India provides very little space to states in this regard. Numerous Supreme court judgments can be sited in support of limited state role but due to lack of space, I have restricted my writing for future discussion.

This brings us to the conclusion that it is only the Center that has the power to get this done and that it would be a blunder not to support an alliance that is making an attempt to do just that.

[Writes: Prashant Lama]


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