Tripartite Talks on Gorkhaland Today

Central government has hinted that it will keep all options open on Gorkhaland issue even as a team from the Centre and the State team commence the tripartite talks in Darjeeling for the resolution of the issue today.

“We are not ruling out anything,” said Union Home Secretary G K Pillai, who is leading a five-member central team. “We have already held three rounds of talks, and we kept moving forward from one round to another. I am sure that from this round too, we will move on to something which will be acceptable to both the state and the Gorkhas,” he said, adding, “I am very hopeful about the outcome.”

The state team, comprising of four members, is headed by Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakrabarti, while the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the third party in the talks, is represented by a 16-member delegation.

The interlocutor appointed by the Centre, Lt Gen (retd) Vijay Madan, has arrived in Darjeeling for tomorrow’s talks.

There has been talk of the Centre proposing Union Territory status for Darjeeling, but Pillai declined to comment on it.

Bimal Gurung, GJM president, however, said that he was not very optimistic about the result of the talks.

“Main zyada hopeful nahi hoon. But I am positive,” he said. Gurung will not take part in the talks tomorrow. Reports said that the tripartite talks will be the last round of official-level talks.

“After this, there will be talks at the political level. And at tomorrow’s meeting we will not talk of anything else other than Gorkhaland,” said GJM leader Roshan Giri.

Meanwhile, the state government reiterated that it was ready to offer more power and autonomy to the hill people. “We will offer them a council with more autonomy and more powers. I hope they will accept that,” Chief Secretary Chakrabarti said.

Yesterday, Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had said that the crisis on the issue could turn critical if the GJM stuck to its ways in their demand for a separate state.

“The issue could be solved through dialogue. I don’t think there’s any problem that can’t be resolved through discussion,” said Mukherjee after a meeting with Central Excise and Customs officials in Kolkata.

He was in the city on the eve of the tripartite talks – between the Centre, the state government and the GJM – over the issue of Gorkhaland. “If people are arrogant about their demand and are not flexible enough, then the situation can go critical,” he said.

Mukherjee, however, expressed confidence that following an interaction between Union Home minister P Chidambaram and the GJM leadership the problem could be resolved through discussion.

Responding to Chidambaram’s request, the GJM leadership relaxed the indefinite hunger strike in Darjeeling since Saturday, in a bid to create a more favourable atmosphere for Monday’s tripartite talks.

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