Gorkha Movement Now

The renewed flareup for a separate Gorkhaland was only inevitable, because the sentiment for a separate statehood was very much alive among the Gorkha community of West Bengal. For Bimal Gurung, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha chief, it is a question of political survival, and for Mamata Banerjee, it is now a prestige issue. Her victory at the Mirik Municipal polls has not taken her far, and the issue of a separate statehood has overwhelmed her men there. The Centre too is not in favour of a separate state, and the distance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) whose candidate had won in the last Lok Sabha polls mainly with the support of the Morcha, and the Gorkha people has been growing.

Persistent attempts are however very much there to mobilise public opinion with the slogan 'Banglake Bhag Hote Debona'(We won't allow a division of Bengal). The slogan was raised far more forcefully by the CPI(M) during 1986-87. Jyoti Basu, Saroj Mukherjee and other leaders of the CPI(M) then ruling party of Bengal found it convenient to forget that Bengal had already been divided along communal lines in 1947; that was not only a territorial division of Bengal, but a division of the Bengali nationality itself also. Any rational person who has taken the pains of studying the history of this partition should understand that it was a cowardly surrender to communalism, for which the greater share of responsibility lay with the upper caste Hindu bhadraloks and their communal-minded leaders who were stubborn in their attitude not to share power with Muslims. M A Zinnah, opportunistic leaders of the Muslim League who took the partition of Bengal as a fait accompli and the Communist Party are also to blame. Till date, some people, who are mainly adherents of the Hndiutva brand of nationalism, has been propagating that had Bengal not been partitioned, it would have gone over to Pakistan, because it was a Muslim-majority province, forgetting that it was a slender majority. It is futile to try to point out before them the fact that immediately after the partition, even the divided Bengal, then East Pakistan, revolted on the language question against the central rulers who then operated from West Pakistan. The upshot of the continuous series of revolts was the formation of Bangladesh. It is stupid to think that with the proportion of Muslims being 52% in the total population, undivided Bengal would have been a Muslim state. As far as the development of the Bengali nationality is concerned the partition of Bengal did incalculable damage. Now, if the Gorkhas are granted a separate state, there is no possibility of greater harm to the Bengali nationality as a whole than what was inflicted in 1947. There is however a glimmer of hope in the fact that the voice of Bengali chauvinism is significantly weaker today than it was in 1986-87.

Vol. 50, No.5, Aug 6 - 12, 2017