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In Phone Speech to Darjeeling Audience, Amit Shah Gives Hill-Specific Issues the Miss

Shah was to reach Lebong by helicopter from Bagdogra. But MP Raju Bista told those gathered that his helicopter had not been able to take off.
BJP supporters in Darjeeling's Lebong. Photo: X/@RajuBistaBJP

Kolkata: Union home minister Amit Shah on April 21 cited bad weather for his no-show at a public meeting in Darjeeling, instead speaking to the audience over the phone.

Shah was to reach Lebong by helicopter from Bagdogra at around 10 am. At 12.30 pm, reported The Telegraph, MP Raju Bista told those gathered that his helicopter had not been able to take off due to “inclement weather conditions.”

Illustration: Pariplab Chakraborty

Telegraph has further reported that sources said the weather in Siliguri, which is where Bagdogra airport is situated, “was fine.” However, while the specifics of wind speech and rainfall appeared conducive, factors other than the weather could well have influenced a helicopter to not take off, a retired air force official told the paper.

However, the speech that Shah delivered as Bista held his phone to the microphone avoided hill specific issues, the report said.

“We are with you in the fight for justice. The Constitution of India will provide you with justice,” Shah said.

“We are committed to resolving all the problems of the region, and your demand for the inclusion of 11 Gorkha communities (in the Scheduled Tribe list) is under consideration,” he also added.

Indian Express also reported Shah as having said that the Centre has “also made several yojanas for tea garden workers. But the TMC government did not implement such schemes in Bengal.”

There is, notably, no mention of Gorkhaland in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s election manifesto. This promise was a key plank and contributed heavily to the party’s popularity in the region.

As the report put it: “In its 2019 manifesto, the BJP had promised a “permanent political solution (PPS)” — without defining the term — and tribal status to 11 Gorkha communities. Most in the hills perceived “PPS” as the state of Gorkhaland.”

Shah was scheduled to hold a roadshow at Silchar in Assam later in the day.

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