Mamata, Chamling mend fences, to work together
DARJEELING: Differences are a thing of the past and Sikkim and Bengal will cooperate with each other for development, said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, shortly after meeting hercounterpart from Sikkim, Pawan Chamling, on Friday.
The relationship between the two states had soured after Chamling backed the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland to be carved out of Bengal. Relations further deteriorated with Bengal alleging that Sikkim was funding and harbouring absconding former GJM leader Bimal Gurung.
On Friday, Chamling too said the two states had resolved their differences and were looking to work for mutual benefit.
Addressing a joint press conference after the meeting, Banerjee stated: "This
meeting has heralded in a new beginning. We discussed various issues including
how to improve relations and cooperation between the two states."
Speaking on the same lines, Chamling stated that the two states would henceforth work together for the betterment and development
of Darjeeling, Bengal and Sikkim.
Incidentally, this is for the first time that a meeting was held between the Chief
Ministers of the two neighbouring states.
"Whatever misunderstanding had occurred is a thing of the past. Now, we have to work together for better relations and a better future," stated Chamling.
"Old misunderstandings are over. This is a very positive development. Sikkim will henceforth not extend any kind of support to them (Gurung and his men). The
two states will henceforth extend full support and cooperation to each other.
Our nearest friend is Sikkim. If Sikkim does well, Bengal will do well too. If there is a problem in Bengal, Sikkim will automatically face issues," added Banerjee.
Incidentally, Bengal had recently scrapped a transport agreement that existed
between the two states allowing commercial vehicles to operate in each other's state.
With the scrapping of the agreement, stringent checks for permits were being carried out, thereby, affecting both trade and tourism.
"Whatever impasses exist will be sorted out between the concerned authorities and officers of the two states. Our vehicles will continue to ply in each other's states as they used to," declared Banerjee after the meeting. Regarding the Sevoke-Rangpo railway link that has come to a grinding halt owing to certain permissions and land issues, Banerjee added: "This is a very important project and will benefit tourism. We want it to see the light of day. However, both
Chamlingji and I are not aware of the current status." The project had been conceptualised and given a go-ahead during Banerjee's tenure as the Railway Minister.
Later it had run into numerous obstacles including cases lodged at the Apex Court by green tribunal associates.
Banerjee invited Chamling to visit both Darjeeling and Kolkata. "I will invite Chamlingji to the next business summit in Kolkata so that we can have joint ventures to promote Darjeeling and Sikkim a