OPEN LETTER TO MAMATA: Darjeeling is No Switzerland, Doesn’t Aspire to be One

Mamata Banerjee

Writes: Dr Deepa Joshi

Dear Ms Banerjee, there are a few of us in the region, who remember your spectacular defeat of 20+ years of the CPI(M) on the Nandigram agenda; and much as we question the manner in which you have de-democratised the Darjeeling region, we admire your stand against Mr Modi’s politics of the toxic mix of fundamentalism and capitalism. While I won’t go into details of our pained angst – this is to remind you to NOT do a Nandigram in Darjeeling, which is precisely what these new business development plans are beginning to look like. Ms Banerjee, with all due respect to you, nothing that has happened in the name of development in the Darjeeling region has benefitted the poorest and the marginal – whether during colonialism, within 20+ years of the CPI(M) and not least in these years of various forms of “Gorkha” administrations. Most of the locals have zero faith in these puppet leaders, please do understand and rise above this act of puppetry. Do you want to transform Darjeeling into Switzerland – a very simple message to you: Why? Switzerland is infamously a place to store “illegal” no-questions-asked finances; is still an unequal society by gender; recently hostile to immigrants – increasingly right wing. Is that how you vision the Darjeeling region?

Or were you just thinking of the mountains, the pristine Alps: then Ms Banerjee – years of the tea industry, skewed forestry policies, now this dam development have totally messed up what was Darjeeling. If you want to at least restore the environment, please DO NOT bring in destructive, invasive industry – with short-term gains (for a few) and long-term destruction, the impact of which is most pressing on the poorest.

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Are you willing Ms Banerjee to rethink “development” in Darjeeling – if so, then please talk to many others outside the coterie of short-sighted political clowns and skewed businesses from wherever, the likes of whom have done nothing but destroy much of what is India today.

Ms Banerjee – rise above and beyond this mess of puppetry politics – there is whole new brave and exciting world out there.

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