"The word 'Gorkhaland' has been legitimised and this is a victory. We can now say we come from Gorkhaland. We are now playing the semi-finals and we now only have to get a Gorkhaland state," GJM president Bimal Gurung said at a rally in Darjeeling at the Mall to celebrate the tripartite agreement signed at Pintail village on July 18. He said GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri had visited Assam to study the Bodoland Territorial Council established there in 2003.
After his return it was discussed by the GJM's central committee and a similar model -- Gorkhaland Territorial Administration -- was adopted, Gurung said. The people had worked tirelessly during the 44-month agitation, he said, adding they should not be upset about Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying that West Bengal will not be divided.
"You should not be upset by her speech. It was political compulsion on her part which prompted her to say it," Gurung said.
On the unpaid electricity, telephone and taxes, by the people in Darjeeling since 2008 when a non-cooperation movement was launched by the GJM, Gurung made it clear that the people would only pay them from July 18 this year when the GTA accord was signed.
"No arrears will be paid, even if they hang us. We will only start paying electricity bills from the day the agreement was signed," Gurung said emphatically.
Gurung also hinted that agitation for Gorkhaland would be kept on hold and it was time to concentrate on creation of jobs and development of the hills. "I request the Opposition to refrain from criticising us. Give me time for another two to two-and-a-half-years and I will change the face of the hills," he said urging youths who had left Darjeeling in search of better jobs to return.