Historic Tripartite accord signed on Gorkhaland

Historic Tripartite accord signed on Gorkhaland Pintail (WB): A historic tripartite agreement ending two decades of uncertainty in the hills was signed on Monday for a new council in Darjeeling with more powers even as both West Bengal government and the Centre ruled out any division of the state but GJM struck a discordant note.

The agreement for the new body, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, was signed in the presence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung here, about 8 km from Siliguri, as a 48-hour bandh was observed in the adjoining Terai and Dooars in the plains against the signing.

The agreement was signed by West Bengal Home Secretary G D Gautama, Union Home Ministry Joint Secretary K K Pathak and GJM general secretary Roshan Giri here.

A note of discord was struck by GJM president just after the signing ceremony saying, "Gorkhaland is our birth right. We will not budge one step from this demand. There is a difference between the signing of the tripartite agreement and Gorkhaland."

He told reporters, "In the coming days we will formulate our strategy on Gorkhaland. But, we are happy with the signing of the tripartite agreement."

His wife, Asha, chief of Gorkha Mahila Morcha, said before the signing that she was happy at the inclusion of the word 'Gorkhaland' in the GTA agreement, but the ultimate aim was to achieve a Gorkhaland state.

"The tripartite agreement for formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration is just a small step and the ultimate aim is a separate state of Gorkhaland."

However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who kept her pledge to resolve the Darjeeling hill crisis within three months of coming to power, said there was no question of bifurcating West Bengal.

Assuring that a complete economic package would be given to GTA, she said that the agreement sought to confer to the maximum possible autonomy within constitutional framework and within central and state acts.

Describing the occasion as historic, Chidambaram said the Centre and the state government would fully back the GTA, which replaced the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council formed in 1988.