Image: Mamata Banerjee and Pawan Chamling greet each other before the meeting in Siliguri.
Siliguri: WEST Bengal and Sikkim have buried the hatchet after nearly four years of discord that had kick-started with a ban on movement of Sikkim tourist taxis in Bengal after the Himalayan state declined Bengal taxis access to all of Sikkim.
The reconciliation between the two states comes as a blow to fugitive Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung, who had set up a hideout in Sikkim during his violent tussle with Bengal last year.
The breakthrough came today following a meeting between Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling at Uttarkanya in Siliguri. The meeting lasted nearly an hour, after which the two held a joint Press conference.
“All the past problems are over now. A new initiative has just been started. We have started working together. Sikkim will give us full cooperation and we will give them full cooperation for their development,” Banerjee said.
She barred journalists from raising the issue of Sikkim extending support to Gurung and Gorkhaland. “Past is past. I don’t think it will be proper to drag the issue anymore. They (Sikkim) are not going to give support to them (Gurung) any longer.”
Chamling, on his part, reiterated his Bengal counterpart. “Now we will work together for the development of Sikkim, Darjeeling and the rest of Bengal. The misunderstanding that was there is a past. We want to move together for better future and better relationship,” he said.
Asked about the discord on tourist taxis, Banerjee said that “there will be no problem in taxis of one state plying in the other,” without clarifying whether Sikkim will give Bengal tourist taxis access to all their destinations.