Gorkhaland : A Political Battle for Survival

The issue of Gorkhaland suddenly got a new life, and all the political sides seem to be confused about it. A fraction of the right wing is supporting the call for a separate Gorkhaland and a fraction of the ultra left seems to be on the same page with them. It is  politically a very confusing scenario, where no party or side seems to have a clear stand except for the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha and the Trinamool Congress which are the main parties in this conflict.

Before taking sides one must understand the problem with the Gorkhaland issue. The Two main arguments given by the Gorkha separatist groups are that the West Bengal Governments neglected their proposed area known as the Gorkhaland, and that they are different in culture and language from Bengalis.

First coming to the issue of the backwardness of the Hill area’s, it is the Gorkha leaders who are to blamed equally with West Bengal government for the Backward state of the Area’s compromising Proposed Gorkhaland. The Gorkhas have enjoyed semi autonomy from a long time first as the Darjileeng Gorkha Hill Council and then as Gorkhaland Territorial administration, and all these bodies were formed for the development of the Gorkhaland, what has the gorkha leaders did for the development?

The current head and founder of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha who are the forerunner in the movement is Bimal Gurung who also happens to be the Chief Executive of the Gorkhaland, what he did for the Development of the Gorkhaland is a major question.

Now coming to the Cultural and Linguist differences, it is a foolishness to carve out states based upon language and Culture in a diverse country like India. The Reorganization of the states cannot be termed a very successful idea, rather it is a poison which will end up making every village of the country a state of its own.

In India the diversity is so deep that people speaking one language can have multiple cultures or people of one culture can have multiple languages. In India people of one district differ from people of other district, people of one village differ from people of other village. In India there are calls for different state inside every state, And there will be no stopping it.

We already have mixed culture and mixed linguistic states in India like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi and Jammu & Kashmir. the reason why The Dogras of Jammu, Kashmiris of Kashmir and the Ladhakhis of Ladakh are living in one state is the same reason why Gorkhaland must remain a part of West Bengal. Because if Gorkhaland becomes a separate state it will share direct open borders with Nepal, and Nepal currently considers China to be a bigger friend than India, and the Maoist Party is quite strong in that part of the world. Thus a new state is not good for the interests of India as an Nation.

Similarly the Government of West Bengal must understand that West Bengal is a multi cultural state, it is home to the Bengali people, the Gorkha People, the Rajbongshis People and to other tribes. Even the Bengali community is divided into Ghoti and Bangal who have their own cultural differences, the current ruling party must learn to respect and accept West Bengal Bengal as it is, and should not try to impose ones culture or language upon other.

Moreover what the people perceiving as a battle between the Bengali and Gorkhali or some people as a battle between The Hindu Gorkhas against the Bengali Muslim Jehadis is actually a political battle of Survival between Bimal Gurung and Mamata Banerjee, and it benefits both.

After the GTA Treaty, GJM was slowly losing its base, because the party was formed with one aim of Gorkhaland, so without the movement party had no reason to exist. Thus Bimal Gurung was forced to restart the movement to keep his party and his political career alive.

On the other hand TMC and Mamata Banerjee does not fear the dying Left front in state anymore. It is worried about the growing popularity and acceptability of Hindutwa, BJP and Narendra Modi in the state and among the middle class Bengali Bhadrolok (gentleman). And being a seasoned politician as she is Mamata Banerjee does not want to make the same mistake as the Samajwadi party did in UP, by starting ultra Muslim appeasement to counter Hindutwa neither she wants to woo the Hindu voters and anger her loyal Muslim votebank so what she wants to do is to create a Bengali votebank to counter the Hindutwa.

She looks at the scenario as the perfect landscape for her to unite the Bengalis as a votebank. That is why the State government is in no mood to end the conflict and come to a settlement.

The Gorkhaland issue is nothing but a classic case of mishandling,  by the government. First it was the Left front government which never bothered to go up to the hills, rather they preferred to give as much money as Subhash Ghisingh wanted and stay back, they never attempted to check what Subhash Ghisingh was doing with all the money given to him for development.

There was growing anger for Subhash Ghisingh in the hills, Bimal Gurung used this opportunity to replace Ghisingh and become the new Leader of Gorkhas, it was during this time he formed the new party Gorkha Janamukti Morcha. His relations with Mamata Banerjee was very good. When TMC came to power in 2011 replacing the 35 year regime of left, she replaced the old semi autonomous body Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council with Gorkhaland Territorial Administration with Bimal Gurung as its head.

In the GTA Treaty the idea of a separate gorkha state was not terminated, rather it was said that Gorkhaland will be discussed later. After getting Money and power Bimal Gurung relaxed the movement, he even paved the way for TMC on the hills and once called Mamata Banerjee the mother of the Hills. But Mamata Banerjee decided to use divide and rule policy in the Hills, which led to the creation of different committees for Lepcha people, Bhutia people.

It was evident that she was trying to unite all the non gorkha people in darjileeng on her favor, as she had desire to rule over the hills as well. Bimal Gurung  was quickly realizing that he is losing his base, and if he doesn’t do anything soon, then TMC might really conquer the Hills. He was waiting for a right opportunity to start the movement again, and it came as the Language imposition.

TMC  on the other hand was trying to become a pro Bengali party to counter Hindutwa , and as a part of their new agenda they made learning Bangla language compulsory across the state which included the Nepali speaking Gorkha regions. This came as a blessing in disguise for Bimal Gurung, it was the opportunity he was looking for, even though Mamata Banerjee later made it clear that in Hills, Bangla will be optional 4th language but it was too late.

Language was just an excuse, Bimal gurung was trying to do something from a long time. It is a battle Between the two leaders who claim themselves to be Leaders of The Bengali and Gorkhali people respectively. The solution for Gorkhaland is not a different state, but a good governance. A government which will respect the beliefs, culture and language of Gorkhas, which will not treat them as outsiders or foreigners , but will treat them equally.

Note: The views expressed in this article are opinions based on the Author’s understanding of the political turmoil in West Bengal