KOLKATA/JALPAIGURI: A controversial demand for carving out a union territory comprising North Bengal districts out of Bengal, made by two BJP MPs from the region has sparked off a sharp reaction with the ruling TMC with party Supremo Mamata Banerjee stating she would not allow any part of Bengal to lose its freedom and be dependant on New Delhi.
At a closed-door meeting at the residence of BJP MP for Alipurduar John Barla at Lakhipara Tea Garden, the demand for a separate Union Territory was raised and discussed on Sunday.
Barla told PTI in a telephonic conversation on Tuesday I made the demand there have been movements here for a separate Kamtapuri, a greater Cooch Behar and for Gorkhaland. My belief is that North Bengal should be detached and made into a separate union territory.
The MP who has earlier led an agitation for an autonomous tribal area in the last decade, said small states perform better. North Bengal is neglected, it also faces security issues. Our economy is affected, tea gardens are being shut down. We will be better off as a Union territory.
Barla, said that he along with others from the region would be meeting both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah on this issue as well as would raise it in Parliament.
BJP has four MPs from the region and at least one of them Jayanta Roy from Jalpaiguri said that though Barlas comments were made in is personal capacity, he supported them.
However, BJP Bengal unit state president Dilip Ghosh said his party does not have any such agenda. “None of our officials has said any such thing,” he said, claiming that attempts are being made by the TMC to malign the BJP by raking up various issues.
“I want to make it clear that the BJP has no such agenda to divide Bengal or create a different state,” Ghosh said.
The Trinamool Congress has came out strongly despite BJPs denials. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said They should be ashamed after their humiliating loss in the elections but, instead, they are trying to divide Bengal. In whose interest are they trying to split Bengal?
She argued that formation of a Union territory takes away a peoples rights as it denies them of the benefits of statehood. I will not allow anyone to divide Bengal. UT means being at the mercy of New Delhi and losing all freedom. But I will not allow North Bengal or any other part of Bengal to lose its freedom and become dependent on New Delhi.”
The longest and most violent agitation movement in North Bengal was for a separate territory for Gorkhaland which was resolved by a series accords which finally saw the setting up of Gorkhaland territorial Administration. Other movements such as for Kamtapuri which saw the setting up of the proscribed Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, have largely petered out.