Gangtok, 14 May:
Gorkha Rashtriya Congress [GRC] president, Bharat Dong, informed today that GRC was contesting the Darjeeling bye-election on the issue of Sikkim-Darjeeling unification. The GRC, he said, is convinced that the unification of Sikkim and Darjeeling was the “only solution” to all the problems of Darjeeling and the only guarantee to “save” the existence and identity of the Gorkha community.
Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Dong said, “If the people of Darjeeling give their mandate to GRC understanding the logic of our unification argument, then our MLA will not got to West Bengal Assembly but rather go to the Sikkim Assembly. Darjeeling is a part of Sikkim so we will go to Sikkim.”
He stated that after winning the election, GRC will pursue the unification issue more vigorously in Sikkim backed by the people’s mandate.
He stated that the party has been working on this issue for the past 16 years but the Sikkim government has not taken up the issue seriously thus far.
The GRC president added that only “unification” can ensure development in both Sikkim and Darjeeling.
He said that Sikkim has the misconception that unification would dilute the rights and privileges of Sikkim and the Sikkimese and countered today that Sikkim has been suppressing the aspirations of the Darjeeling people by taking lease money for 134 years.
He added that Sikkim, despite its small size, has lots of Ministers, Secretaries and officers whereas the Darjeeling Hills, with a larger population, lacks such representation.
He also stated that the unification would also be consistent to the State’s demand for increase in Assembly strength.
Mr Dong further claimed that even UPA and NDA in the centre were in the favour of the unification.