Gangtok: A few days after Gorkha Rashtriya Congress (GRC) submitted a memorandum to West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar demanding Sikkim‘s merger with Darjeeling, the issue has once again come to the fore.
GRC is a political party in West Bengal spearheading the unification of Darjeeling and Dooars with Sikkim.
On Thursday, Sikkim chief minister Prem Singh Golay condemned the party’s claim saying that the state doesn’t “take the issue seriously”.
A day earlier, Golay’s Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), too, denied any talks of the state’s merger with the Darjeeling hill region of West Bengal.
“Darjeeling was a gift we gave away. We have no intention of taking our gift back,” SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling said on Wednesday.
“When we were in the opposition, we opposed the merger. Even now, we are taking the same stand. The merger talks are neither of the people of Darjeeling or the West Bengal government. It is just a few individuals who have raised the issue for political gain in the past, and they intend on doing so again,” he said.
Referring to GRC, Khaling said the party is never trusted by the people of Bengal. “Gorkha Rashtriya Congress is yet to bag a single seat in any form of election in West Bengal or Darjeeling hills,” he added.
Extending its emotional support to the people of Darjeeling, Khaling said: “We have relationship with the people from Darjeeling. We support them in their agitation and in their disasters. We support their demand for Gorkhaland, a separate state, a union territory or Sixth Schedule or any other geo-political development. But we will always oppose the idea of a merger with Sikkim.”
“We cannot intervene in the politics of West Bengal, we can only extend our support to their demands and their solutions,” added Khaling.
After the Trinamool Congress’ recent victory in the recent West Bengal assembly elections, the focus has shifted to north Bengal which has now become a stronghold for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The saffron party’s rise in the region has once again raised the demands for a separate state, Union Territory or merger with Sikkim as topics of discussion.
Historically in the 1800s, the kingdom of Sikkim dropped Darjeeling and what was then South Sikkim to the kitty of the British Raj. Darjeeling later became a part of West Bengal after India’s independence.
The kingdom of Sikkim merged with the Indian Union in 1974.
However, every now and then, the issue of Sikkim-Darjeeling merger takes centre stage.
Despite such waves, the people of Sikkim have been opposing the talks on the issue. In fact, leaders across the political spectrum in the Himalayan state have been united in their opposition against the merger.
Sikkim BJP’s stand on the issue
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Sikkim has always opposed the idea of a merger, saying such a theory was floated to create division between the people of the state and nearby Darjeeling.
“Both Sikkim and Darjeeling are unique in their nature. Their differences as laid down by the Constitution of India are enough to demarcate them as different places with common history,” said BJP state unit president DB Chauhan.
“We are always there for each other in difficulties. The long-standing demand of Darjeeling Hills to be a separate state has always been supported by the Sikkimese people. However, the call for merger is denting the relationship between our state and the region of north Bengal,” Chauhan added.
I AM 371F campaign’s views
Passang Sherpa, who heads the I AM 371F campaign, has also opposed the theory extending solidarity with fellow Sikkimese people.
“BJP was the first to oppose the recent talks of merger, followed by the ruling SKM government. It is heartening to see people across party lines unitedly standing for a common cause. The demand of merger is outrightly rejected by the people of Sikkim, as it is neither constitutional nor justifiable,” said Sherpa.
“It is propaganda aimed at leading social and political instability in a very sensitive state bordering three countries, most importantly China, which can be a threat to the nation,” he added.
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