In a strong message to the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that West Bengal and Darjeeling were inseparable.
"Darjeeling is the heart of Bengal. I am not against anyone. I am with the people of the hills. It is the motherland. Bengal cannot stay without you, nor can you stay without us," Banerjee told the first rally in the hills of the ruling Trinamool Congress at the Mall in Darjeeling.
Without naming the GJM which has recently backtracked from its politics of shutdowns and violence to demand Gorkhaland, Banerjee said her government would not allow disruption of normal life in the name of bandhs which, hindered peace and development.
"My government's policy is that there should be no bandhs and strikes," the chief minister said pointing out that there was also a court order against it.
"If there are only bandhs, how can development take place? If Kanchenjunga smiles I feel great. But if Kanchenjunga cries, then I feel the pain," Banerjee said.
Stating that students lost a year if the educational institutions in Darjeeling remained closed for a month, she said, "I want peace, progress and development in Darjeeling”.
"Let us live together. Let us forget quarrels and let us work together for the development of Darjeeling," Banerjee appealed.
Describing herself as a bridge between the state and Darjeeling to stay united, Banerjee said she would visit Darjeeling more often.
Asking people if they did not want tourists who were the main revenue earners in the hills, she said, "People from all parts of the country and abroad come to Darjeeling.
"If there is peace tourists will come and the tourism industry will get a boost and there will be creation of jobs."
Urging the hill people to make Darjeeling more beautiful than Switzerland, she sought the support of the Gorkha Territorial Administration, the hill council.
"Whatever is built, don't destroy," she said.
Referring to the pay cut by the state government for the shutdown in the hills, she said, "Pay cut was resorted to for not working for one month. We will return the money if you work sincerely."
Image: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee