As Darjeeling clashes escalate, Mamata hints interest in talks with BJP

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As Darjeeling clashes escalate, Mamata hints interest in talks with BJP
As Darjeeling clashes escalate, Mamata hints interest in talks with BJP

Kolkata : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday indicated she was open to holding discussions with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the Darjeeling situation, even as she blamed "foreign forces" close to the BJP for playing a part in the flare-up in the hills.

She also accused the central government of "non-cooperation", and claimed the crisis could have been averted through timely deployment of central forces.

Speaking to the media, Banerjee appealed for restoration of peace in Darjeeling and said the state government was open to dialogue within the next 10-15 days.

Darjeeling has been on the boil for around a month following the revival of the agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland. The principal hill party Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has called an indefinite shutdown, which is continuing for 24 days.

Asked whether she wanted to talk to the Home Minister, Banerjee responded: "I have talked to him six times. If he wants to talk, we have no problem in discussing."

Banerjee repeated her charge that some central agencies were interfering in Darjeeling.

"The central government has been on a non-cooperation mode with the state and some of the central agencies are interfering, which is against the federal structure.

"There is a conspiracy to disturb Bengal and the international borders of the state. We have on several occasions requested for the deployment of the central forces. Had they been deployed timely, the current situation could have been avoided," the Chief Minister said at the state secretariat Nabanna.

Banerjee saw the hand of foreign forces close to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the pro-Gorkhaland agitation, which she dubbed as "pre-planned" and "planted".

"Some of the foreign forces which have good relations with the BJP have indulged in the agitation in Darjeeling."

Holding out a proposal for dialogue, she urged the pro-Gorkhaland agitators not to take the law into their own hands.

"Do not take law into your hand and be restrained. We don't want the administration to act in an unrestrained manner. The administration has maintained restraint even though panchayat, government offices, police stations, power supply offices were burnt, and water supply connection snapped."

She said the state government will investigate the incident in Sonada, where the death of one person has made the situation volatile again.

Banerjee said the entire hill region remained shut for about one month and people were hard put to procure food.

She alleged that some GJM leaders managed to procure food from the Nepal border.

"Allow the government to supply food and provide minimum services to the people of Darjeeling and eschew violence. This is my appeal. If you agree to my appeal, we can have a meeting within 10-15 days," she said.