HT, 13 Jul 2016, DARJEELING: Dubbing Darjeeling as “Mini India” both President Pranab Mukherjee and chief minister Mamata Banerjee preached the integration mantra in the Hill town.

The President also applauded Mamata for her “good work.” The West Bengal government on Tuesday evening accorded a state reception to the President of India at Darjeeling Chowrasta.
Political observers feel the move to felicitate the President in Darjeeling is a calculated move by the chief minister in a bid to assimilate Darjeeling in mainstream West Bengal. Earlier, during the Left Front regime state government ministers hardly visited the Hills and government functions were not held triggering a sense of being excluded.
Interestingly, Bengal minister and singer Indranil Sen presented the song “Banglar Mati Banglar Jol” which includes the lines “Banglar Ghore joto bhai bon, ek hok, ek hok, hey Bhogoban” (let there be unity throughout Bengal).
“The whole of Bengal is here and it is a matter of great pride for all of us that the President of India is being felicitated in Darjeeling. No other destination can be better than the Queen of the Hills for the felicitation of the President of India. Darjeeling is famous throughout the world. It is our dreamland. The fact that we are together is something to be proud of. We should always remain united,” said Mamata in her speech. Bimal Gurung, chief executive member, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration was also present on stage.
The CM then requested the President to visit Darjeeling whenever he can take out time from his busy schedule. “I am not a guest here but I am one of you,” reciprocated President Pranab Mukherjee. Dubbing Darjeeling as “Mini India,” the President said: “Though the British developed Darjeeling as a Hill station but in our own way with our unique power of assimilation were able to absorb ethnic, linguistic, religious, cultural differences into one big ocean of unity and integrity.”
The President said it is the strength of Indian democracy that is demonstrated in Darjeeling. “Darjeeling is a true mini India and is not a mere hill station. It is a melting pot of different cultures, ethnicity and religion. The desire to live together, work together and move forward together is what makes this place great. Darjeeling is not just a geographical expression,” said the President.
The President was all praise for Mamata and gave verbal ascent to the development boards that have been formed. “I have read in newspaper reports, gone through gover nment reports that the tremendous work being done by the chief minister to bring integration between groups, sub groups, communities and sub communities but preserving their unique culture and language through the development boards is truly commendable,” said the President.
Interestingly, the boards have often come in the line of fire of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha dubbing them as a ploy by Mamata to “divide and rule.”
The President signed off with words of appreciation for Banerjee: “You are doing well. Carry on. God Bless.”
After the meeting, the President, Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi and the CM visited the famous Mahakal Temple in Darjeeling.