From Gorkhaland to GST, resistance rules

Siliguri, 28 Jun:

The season, it seems, is of bandhs, strikes, boycotts and denials.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has trashed the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and continues with the hill bandh while its principal partner in the NDA, the BJP, has denied support to the statehood cause.

Opposing the Centre’s “hurry” in implementing the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the Trinamool has decided to boycott GST’s official launch 30 June midnight. Trinamool chief and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has made it public through social media.

Stating ground work for the GST roll-out is incomplete; the CPI-M too has indicated it might not attend the launch function.

Also opposing the GST in its current form the country’s textile sector has decided to observe a strike in protest. The West Bengal government has decided to support the strike.

When such negative mood seems to be on the rise throughout the country, the GJM fielded its most precious treasure on Wednesday to deal a blow for Gorkhaland.

Children are the most coveted wealth of any society. On Wednesday, Darjeeling witnessed a rally by children - from toddlers to adolescents, some in ethnic wear and others bare bodied and in shackles, voicing slogans for Gorkhaland.

How wise is exposing children to a tense situation is something the organizers will do well to consider. Besides exposing them to danger, for conditions in stressful situations can spill out of control anytime, such exposure often leaves an indelible mark in a child’s psyche and can affect its sensitivity. It is expected the risk factor will be borne in mind in such future adventures.

Against this backdrop the hill political parties would assemble on Thursday to discuss the course of the ongoing movement. Either the movement will gather further momentum as an outcome to the meeting, or it will show signs of tripping.

Much of the movement’s future post Thursday will depend on how the GJM handles the rest of the political parties that support the Gorkhaland demand. If the handling is right, which means a percentage of the other parties’ views will have to be respected; the movement will get a collective push.

And if the views and conditions of the rest of parties are ignored, the onus to carry forward the movement will be on the GJM alone. And, the first condition the GJM might receive from the others on Thursday is to end violence and the protracted bandh. Demand for the GJM MLAs and civic representatives to resign would also feature among the conditions. Much would depend on how the GJM responds to the dual conditions.

Although not violent, the foothill areas are also showing signs of stress arising out of the hill movement. Last Sunday thousands took to the streets in Siliguri opposing the demand of a separate state in the hills.

The same is scheduled to happen again on Friday and this time on a larger scale with participation from the Dooars and adjacent Jalpaiguri indicating the apolitical movement has stirred public imagination and is catching up as a line of resistance.

Careful watch should be kept over both movements. There is no alternative to peaceful co-existence as it has always been.