Claiming that the people of the northern part of West Bengal have been deprived of development, two BJP MLAs on Thursday demanded a union territory (UT) for North Bengal at a party rally which was later addressed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah. BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh, a former chief of the party’s West Bengal unit, said he agrees with the demand, claiming that the people of the region want it.
Matigara-Naxalbari legislator Anandamay Barman and Dabgram-Phulbari MLA Shikha Chatterjee spoke in favour of a union territory. Reacting to the demand, the ruling Trinamool Congress accused the BJP of fanning separatism.
“If Ladakh can be carved out as a union territory from Jammu & Kashmir, why not North Bengal? What is the harm in it? The people of North Bengal have been deprived for decades and it is time to stop that deprivation. I would request the prime minister and the union home minister to look into the demand,” Barman said.
Echoing his party colleague, Chatterjee said there should be separate arrangements for North Bengal. ” People of North Bengal should rule the region,” she said.
Ghosh said he supports the demand for a separate state in North Bengal. “The TMC is saying that the BJP is trying to divide Bengal. But it is the demand of the people which stems from years of deprivation. I am totally with it,” he said in his speech when Shah was yet to reach the venue.
Later, while addressing the rally, Shah did not touch on the issue of a separate state but claimed that the TMC regime had deprived the North Bengal region. “The Union Government had decided to build an AIIMS in North Bengal, but it was not allowed here so that people of North Bengal don’t benefit from it,” he said.
An AIIMS was proposed to come up at Raiganj in Uttar Dinajpur district but it was later shifted to Kalyani in Nadia district which is in the southern part of the state. Trinamool Congress spokesperson Kunal Ghosh claimed that such statements only reflect the saffron camp’s divisive politics.
“The BJP has been trying to fan separatism and plotting to bifurcate West Bengal for political reasons. But we will never allow that to happen,” Ghosh said. BJP leaders demanding a separate state or union territory for North Bengal is not new.
Last year, BJP MLA from Kurseong Bishnu Prasad Sharma demanded separation of the Darjeeling hills from West Bengal. The party’s Alipurduar MP John Barla, now a union minister, had also stirred a hornet’s nest in 2021 after he demanded a union territory by carving out the districts of north Bengal.
With inputs from News18