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Rajnath Singh talks to Mamata Banerjee, asks protesters to shun violence
By Our Correspondent, 19/06/2017, Kolkata

Union home minister Rajnath Singh, in the Centre's first official response to the Darjeeling turmoil, reminded protesters on Sunday that "nobody should resort to violence" and "every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue".

Singh's series of tweets, which came 11 days after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters threw bombs at the venue of the Bengal cabinet meeting in Darjeeling, followed a half-hour conversation with chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Sunday morning.

The call to shun violence may be part of the BJP strategy to distance itself from its ally's attempt to dismember Bengal.

The BJP has an MP from Darjeeling, who won because of the GJM support, but the rest of Bengal may not take kindly to Gorkhaland call, feels a cross-section of BJP leaders in Bengal.

Banerjee has already latched on to the "pan-Bengal" sentiment, with her "won't allow division of Bengal as long as I am alive" statement on Saturday. It is being seen as a successful effort to force the BJP to declare its stand on the statehood issue. But the GJM upped the ante.

The party's Darjeeling MLA, Amar Singh Rai, said: "I see no reason for us to enter into any dialogue only with the state government. We will enter into a dialogue only with the Centre on a single-point agenda — a separate state of Gorkhaland." Rai, however, remained non-committal on a tripartite dialogue.

The Trinamool Congress didn't remain quiet either. In a Facebook post, TMC national spokesperson Derek O'Brien said, "If there are misgivings, dialogue works best, within the framework of the Constitution. But before that violence has to stop. There can be no negotiations at gunpoint."

It wasn't without reason that Banerjee not only apprised Singh "of the situation prevailing in Darjeeling", but also reminded him that in the 2011 GTA agreement — to which the Centre is also a signatory — the GJM had agreed to ensure peace in the region.

Singh said: "Spoke to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in the morning. She has apprised me of the situation prevailing in Darjeeling. I appeal to the people living in Darjeeling and nearby areas to remain calm and peaceful. Nobody should resort to violence. In a democracy like India, resorting to violence would never help in finding a solution.

Every issue can be resolved through mutual dialogue. All concerned parties and stakeholders should resolve their differences and misunderstandings through dialogue in amicable environment."

Relieved with the "amicable environment" fine print, the state BJP leadership chose to offer its services to mediate between the GJM and TMC.

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