PERSPECTIVE: Jaswant Singh’s Roadmap: ‘Interim Authority’ towards a ‘state-within-a-state’ and ultimately to ‘statehood’

“If legitimate and valid demands are met in time, then there is no need for protests or violent protests for that matter” – Jaswant Singh

PERSPECTIVE: Jaswant Singh’s Roadmap: ‘Interim Authority’ towards a ‘state-within-a-state’ and ultimately to ‘statehood’ – The correct peaceful political way forward in these volatile times ?!!

Gorkhs Daju

By Gorkhs Daju

Darjeeling, August 12, 2010: A ‘state-within-a-state’ (imerium in imperio) is a political situation within a country when a section of the authority within a State does not respond to that State’s civilian leadership, an outgrowth of the State’s natural civil power.

In a ‘negative light’ it can be looked upon as when authorities within the State’s ‘secret service’ or the ‘armed forces’ take ‘decisions and actions’ over and above the natural civilian authorities. Similarly, this compendium can be also extended to religious authorities like the church, temple or mosque, etc.

However, when a section of the population of a region, disgruntled by the State’s leadership accused of ‘parochial bias’ against its regional, socio-cultural and ethnic recognition as well as development, rebels – as was the case between earlier East and West Pakistan, or more currently the Maoist movement at West Midnapore, and which is now the case of the Darjeeling and Dooars areas, the natural political situation could be politically termed as ‘imerium in imperio’.

This concept was first initialized by Right Honorable Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, who also served as Finance, Defense and Foreign Minister of India under the Vajpayee Government.

Jaswant's arrival in Darjeeling in early May 2010 - words misunderstood by Bengal ?!!

In early May this year Stalwart Jaswant Singh had pointed out: “it is clear that a separate Gorkhaland state will take a long time to happen” and cautioned the leaders of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha against expecting it to be created overnight. What he had been advocating then for the movement was the creation of  “a state within a state” till such a time that the situation was politically conducive for the creation of a separate state.

“I have been ceaselessly working with the Union government, (and the) home ministry, for the concept of ‘a state within a state’. The governor (in the new set-up) will be there to represent the Centre and should not be answerable to the state government,” Jaswant Singh had said.

In a news report Stalwart Jaswant Singh stated on May 4, 2010: “For Gorkhaland, (one must)learn from the historical experiences of creating states in India. In all such demands for bifurcation of states, there have always been stages. For example, how many years did it take for Mizoram and Nagaland to come into being?”

Jaswant outside the Lok Sabha - a veteran of ages, understanding the intricacies and delays of Indian Politics ?!!

Only too aware that neither the Centre nor the Bengal government are in any mood to concede to the Morcha demand for a separate state, Singh said: “During the formation of a new state or a new territory, there will not be a straight line. There will be stops and pauses.”

The movement, in fact, is currently going through a phase of “stops and pauses” in its quest for a separate state. The Morcha has said it will not settle for anything less than the inclusion of the Dooars and the Terai in the interim set-up, which will form the geographical boundary of the separate Gorkhaland state, if and when it comes into being.

In fact, the Morcha has said this demand will form the only agenda during the next rounds of bureaucratic and political-level tripartite talks. The state, however, has so far refused to concede to it, leading to a deadlock.

Jaswant Singh at the Maha Rally in Darjeeling - understanding the mass consensus of the Gorkha Cause and advising caution and roadmap of the 'state-within-a-state' direction forward ?!!

Appearing to be advocating patience for the Morcha leaders, Singh said: “Nothing can be achieved at one go, get the government (interim set-up) in your hand, administer the area and then after, build on. Everything has to take place stage by stage.”

Giving instances of similar disputes that have arisen during the creation of other states in the country, Singh said “such things happen” but are eventually resolved.

“The creation of Uttarakhand was always accompanied by territorial problems,” Singh said. “The state was formed, protests continued and later the disputed areas were added. Jharkhand was created after much protest from Bihar. These things happen.”

GJM walkout of 5th Tripartite Talks - because Bengal refused to bring or consider the territory mandate ?!!

However, on the 11th of May 2010, despite the warnings portended earlier by the Hon’ble Darjeeling MP, the official-level talks between the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the Bengal government and the Centre collapsed over differences on the territory to come under the jurisdiction of the interim authority proposed for the Darjeeling hills.

The meeting, a precursor to the second round of political talks, was a non-starter. Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri stood firm on his demand that no talks were possible without the inclusion of  Siliguri, which is part of Darjeeling District, the Terai and Dooars in the interim authority.

Giri said the Morcha was not ready to be part of any discussion which did not include the territory. “They will have to discuss the inclusion of Siliguri and the Terai and the Dooars. The Bengal government is backtracking on its previous commitments,” he said and added, the West Bengal delegation, led by the state home secretary Samar Ghosh, had told them that they did not have the mandate to discuss territory in the proposed set up.

Giri said a fresh document had been submitted to the Union home ministry. “We have listed the disparities in education and health, the state of the tea gardens and the other problems faced by the people of the Terai and the Dooars, justifying the inclusion of the areas in our proposed interim set-up,” he said.

After the 6th Tripartite Talks in Delhi - all smiles that progress of sorts had been made with Bengal asked to file observations ?!!

And learning from their earlier mistakes, during the next round of political talks on the 24th of July 2010, The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said they would place three alternatives for the hills at the tripartite meeting in New Delhi and that it was looking at the Centre to decide on the territorial jurisdiction of the proposed set-up.

Sources who were in the know of things said the negotiations would start with the demand for Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh or that of a new state.

The Morcha had re-christened the Gorkhaland state it wanted on May 30, 2010 as Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh to woo the Adivasis or tribals so that they joined the statehood movement. A document justifying the necessity of GAP was likely to be submitted during the meeting.

Then on cue, on July 24, 2010 the Bengal government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha inched closer to setting up an interim hill authority, both agreeing to send within two weeks their final observations on draft proposals drawn up by the Centre.

Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh with Home Minister P Chidambaram - working tirelessly towards an early and equitable solution for Darjeeling ?!!

The development, which the Morcha dubbed a “breakthrough”, came at political-level tripartite talks in Delhi, chaired by junior home minister Ajay Maken.

The Centre had proposed that an interim set-up called the Gorkhaland Autonomous Authority, which would report to the Bengal governor, should replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

Delhi also said the new authority would have “legislative” powers along with the “executive” authority the DGHC now enjoys.

While none of these proposals is new, the day’s positive development was that both the Morcha and the state government said they would submit their final observations within the deadline so that the interim authority could be formed soon.

“We told the Centre, the interim authority has to be time-bound and without any prejudice to our primary demand, which is a separate state,” Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri, who led his party’s dozen-strong delegation, said. “The meeting was very cordial,” he added.

The earlier GJM map now with the Adivasi dominated areas in pink stripes - Bengal will to lose much, much more ?!!

The Bengal government has conveyed to the Centre it is in agreement with the proposals, but has some reservations on the financial powers and transfer of officers to the interim authority.

Although the Morcha spoke of a “breakthrough”, fears remained that the authority’s territorial jurisdiction could come in the way of a settlement.

So now that the stage is set with less than a week away for the 17th of August 2010, whether or not Bengal will concede to justified expansion of the areas of the GJM demand or stand to lose all of Jalpaiguri within the Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh statehood call is yet to be seen.

The ball, as they say, is squarely in Bengal’s court.

Rajya Sabha MP Hon'ble Rajiv Pratap Rudy in Kalimpong on Independence Day 2009 - Sincere regrets !!

(Post Script – Right Honourable Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh as well as Right Honourable MP to the Rajya Sabh, Rajiv Pratap Rudy apologise to the people of Darjeeling and Dooars for their inability to be present at the Independence Day celebrations on the 15th of August 2010 here as they are busy with the finishing touches of the 7th Tripartite Talks to be held in New Delhi on the 17th immediately afterwards.)


The Lok Sabha Election Results of April 2009 - majority consensus now forgotten by ABGL on the support by Bengal ?!!

IN ALL FAIRNESS – THE OTHER VIEWPOINT

Interim Setup and its literal and symbolic implications – not missing the political ruse of an astute and snide Bengal ?!!

GJM Chief Bimal Gurung at Maha Rally on May 30, 2010 - out guessing and out maneuvering an astute and wily Bengal ?!! (Darjeeling Times - Mrinal Rana)

From Darjeeling Times
By Prahar Josh

“Gorkhaland movement has its own history and it must be allowed to grow with its core values intact.” – Prahar Josh

“The interim set-up is now a closed chapter.” – Bimal Gurung, Morcha Chief on May 30, 2010, Darjeeling

“The ball is now in the state government’s court as the onus lay on Writers’ Buildings to clear its stand on the two demands of the hill party, the interim set-up and the new state” – Dr Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Morcha spokesperson on July 25,  2010, Siliguri

“Politicians are a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men”  – Abraham Lincoln

August 12, 2010: Although “Interim Setup” figuratively means much more than the WB government would like to explain, they literally mean a temporary arrangement. And that is exactly what the GJMM leadership, who seem a tad frazzled at the moment, would like to take it to mean.

The GJMM’s diehard supporters do not want to explore the meaning of Interim Setup beyond that. It is a tricky situation. The GJMM’s Darjeeling doesn’t want to debate it. For now, the silence is what has prevailed among the GJMM supporters.

However, in the seeming silence there are perhaps confusion and hushed resentment even in the GJMM camp. On the surface, Bimal Gurung’s supporters are prepared to overlook the intention of its leadership to try and fiddle with the ‘Setup’ idea though.

This is the game of politics.

In politics, people often support their leaders blindly. The politically backward people of Darjeeling had done it to their previous leader, Subash Ghising, in the 80s. Now they are blindly supporting their newfangled leadership.

What amazes me immensely is the fact that unlike Ghising’s GNLF, the GJMM leadership is said to have been backed, counseled and guided by the “Intellects” and yet they are making such a reckless and morally irresponsible decision. Let me explain the recklessness and moral irresponsibility of the supposedly intellectually-backed GJMM leadership.

Even a casual thinker can see that the Interim Setup automatically creates two questions in the mind– Question number one; A ‘Temporary Arrangement’ until when? Question number two; A ‘Temporary Arrangement’ until what? For the Gorkhaland movement the second question has a bigger bearing on its future. Therefore, there is a bigger question hanging beyond the Interim Setup.

The GJMM startlingly and unfortunately didn’t dwell too much on the “Until What” question. Their hurry to sit for another round of talks with their Kolkata counterparts to discuss the sad setup surprised and frustrated even the most diehard GJMM supporters.

The general secretary of CPRM, arguably the second largest party in the Hills, RB Rai shrewdly captured the mood and sensed the jeopardy of the situation when he said that the interim setup can be acceptable only if it ushers in the fulfillment of the Gorkhaland demand. He is saying in effect that the stipulated duration of setup alone is not sufficient. If it is really a provisional arrangement, then there has to be a guarantee of Gorkhaland at the end of the setup duration. The reasons behind the GJMM’s lack of guts to question “Until What” are just as incomprehensible as WB politics have ever been.

There is, therefore a symbolic and figurative meaning of this controversial setup. Symbolically, ‘Interim Setup’ means a provisional arrangement until the GJMM can muster the courage again to take on the formidable Kolkata leadership and say straight to their face “We want nothing less than Gorkhaland”.  The interim setup is an open declaration of the unfortunate victory of the calculating Buddhadeb and his company over the hapless Bimal and his company.

The moment Setup became a point of bilateral negotiation, Bimal Gurung’s party conceded the essence or the soul of the movement it was privileged to spearhead up until now. It shows the unpreparedness of the Bimal Gurungs. Behold, how bare is the cupboard. It is sheer recklessness because the cause of Gorkhaland is too high to concede, even temporarily, merely because of the political naivety and moral bankruptcy of the leadership. If the GNLF forfeited the right to demand it, the GJMM surrendered the zeal to demand it.

It is recklessness because nobody has given any leadership the right to ride on public sentiments for fame, but then only to finally deflate public aspirations. The people of Darjeeling who dreamt of Gorkhaland will have to live in shock in the remnants of crushed hopes until another neta emerges to roar from the Gitangey Dara. Will the people still have any zeal and hope left until then?

It is gross moral irresponsibility because Bimal Gurung in a public rally at the St. Joseph school ground on 30th May 2010 had categorically said that the Interim Setup was a closed chapter. It was an opportunity to rectify his blunder of ever starting the interim setup chapter. But his seemingly resounding declaration was just as short-lived as the Darjeeling fog.

The duration and intention of the interim setup is irrelevant to what constitutes the Gorkhaland Movement. The movement embodies the political aspirations of the entire Gorkha community of India that has been existing all along. It is a movement for justice for a community whose glorious history has been tempered with and whose identity has been mistaken due to a lack of political awareness in the nation.

It is the cry of a huge multitude of Indian Gorkhas for their long overdue share in the Indian federalism as has been provided for within the constitutional framework. To say that one individual took the matter to parliament from the road is absurd. A leader in any given situation is just a facilitator to facilitate the expression of public voice or a medium to help public aspirations to be expressed. The movement is always greater than the leadership.

A leader is just a representation of the collective voice of the people. Leaders lead but they can’t create movements. They die but the movement lives on. Movements can only be suppressed for a season. Its goal continues to live beyond the existence of any leadership. Political Movements are the manifestations of the just and innate cry for justice and every political movement has principle, pride and dignity.

The outcome is not more important than those core values of the movement. The Gorkhaland movement has its own history and it must be allowed to grow with its core values intact. Therefore no one or no political party, irrespective of how politically powerful he or it has become, has the right to divest the principles, pride and dignity of the Gorkhaland movement. Moreover, there is more to the Gorkhaland movement than attaining some political power to rule the Hills. The Gorkhas do not want to be identified and remembered in India as feeble, undependable and gullible people who can easily back out of their word. If we cannot add value to our identity, let’s not damage it also. No one should do to it what Subash Ghising did to it in 1988.

But, the reality is that the movement has been taken lightly by its own proponents once again. The inflated public sentiments should not have been tinkered with. It was a crushing blow to the peoples’ pride with which they were demanding Gorkhaland. It is a harsh irony that the onward movement of the GJMM leadership itself unfeelingly brought about the sudden insult on the same outburst of public sentiment that had catapulted it to the present climactic position of political command.

The initiation of such a negotiation caused irreparable damage to the movement that had promised not to stop anywhere until it reached its final destination. Does the GJMM realize the harm it did to the movement by one instance of impatience?

“The moment Setup became a point of bilateral negotiation, Bimal Gurung’s party conceded the essence or the soul of the movement it was privileged to spearhead up until now. It shows the unpreparedness of the Bimal Gurungs. Behold, how bare is the cupboard.

It is sheer recklessness because the cause of Gorkhaland is too high to concede, even temporarily, merely because of the political naivety and moral bankruptcy of the leadership. If the GNLF forfeited the right to demand it, the GJMM surrendered the zeal to demand it.”

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