Vivek Chhetri, TT,
Darjeeling, Aug. 10: Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the president of the Jana Andolan Party, today said it was not the right time for the outfit to jump into the Gorkhaland movement bandwagon even though the party’s core issue was the statehood.
He was reacting to the remark by Mahendra P. Lama, the chief of the JAP’s bureau, yesterday. Lama had said: “We are all very clear in the party and I have also repeatedly said our core issue is the separate state of Gorkhaland… I feel time is ripe to start a movement for statehood involving every party.”
Lama had also suggested that the JAP must have “as less relation with the state government as possible as they are against Gorkhaland and a closer relation will only dilute our demand”.
However, speaking over the phone from Calcutta today, Chhetri rejected Lama’s suggestions. “Our party is merely six-seven months old and I believe for the JAP, this is not the right time to jump into the (Gorkhaland) bandwagon.”
“It is easy to give a call, make sweeping statements on Gorkhaland and not to be held accountable for the statement. This has been happening for the last 100 years or so. It is easy to take a populist stand but we are a party that believes in delivering,” he added.
Asked about the JAP’s stand on Lama’s suggestion that the party should not be very close to the state government, Chhetri said: “Since the state government does not have a role in creating a state (Lama, too, had said the Centre could create a new state without the mother state’s consent), it does not matter whether we have a good or bad relation. However, this does not mean that we should always fight with the state.”
The JAP president, however, added that a good relation with the state would help carry out development work smoothly. “Why should we enter into a confrontation with the government unnecessarily and create a situation which will be counter productive for the general public. Development is also an important issue,” said Chhetri.
He said there were no problems within the JAP leadership. “In our party, we are free to express ideas and suggestions,” said Chhetri.