By Express News Service

KOLKATA: Different opinions from within the BJP’s Bengal chapter surfaced in the past 24 hours over the issue of statehood for north Bengal after the party’s state president Dilip Ghosh supported the demand raised by a Union minister for separate state while another MP Locket Chatterjee refused to second it.

Referring to minister John Barla’s demand for the formation of separate state or Union Territory comprising districts in north Bengal, Ghosh on Saturday said, ‘’If north Bengal or Junglemahal eventually turns into separate states, chief minister Mamata Banerjee would be responsible for it. John Barla has not made any illegitimate demand. There is nothing wrong in it.’’

Earlier, BJP MP from Bishnupur Saumitra Khan had demanded separate statehood for Junglemahal districts which include Jhargram, Purulia, West Midnapore and Bankura.

Locket, in an event in Hooghly on Sunday, said Bengal’s people never want any changes in the state’s geographical status. “Bengal’s culture and vision are different. Bengal should remain same what it is today, from north to south and from east to west. This is the land of Rabindranath Tagore where people love to live together,’’ she said.

Barla started raising the demand for statehood within a month of the recent Assembly elections in which the BJP failed to perform impressively against the demand of its leaders of bagging more than 200 out of 294 seats. The party won 77 seats and the ruling Triinamool Congress secured victory in 213 seats.

“Both Junglemahal and north Bengal have been deprived of development for decades now. People in Junglemahal still survive by selling saal and kendu leaves and from both these places, thousands migrate to other states to earn bread and butter. John Barla has simply voiced the aspirations of the people who elected him. His demand is not illegitimate and nothing wrong in it,’’ Ghosh said during his north Bengal tour.    

Kunal Ghosh, TMC’s general secretary and spokesperson, said the BJP should have mentioned the statehood issue in its manifesto ahead of the 2021 Assembly elections. ‘’BJP always play divisive card in politics. They should have mentioned that if voted to power, they will divide Bengal. But they did not because they knew not a single BJP candidate would have won,’’ he said.