Kolkata: After the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the dominant party in the hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, has written to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee seeking a dialogue with the state government, while reiterating its demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The GJM wants a “political dialogue" on the “long pending demand for Gorkhaland", the party’s president Bimal Gurung wrote in his letter to the chief minister. Attempts to give the Gorkhas more autonomy in administration such as creation of the Gorkha Territorial Administration and the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council earlier had failed, Gurung said.

Describing these steps as “temporary" measures to fulfil the aspirations of the Nepali-speaking community of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, the GJM chief said there is no alternative to creating a separate state of Gorkhaland.

The chief minister has clearly ruled out carving up West Bengal. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party, which enjoys the GJM’s backing, has said it does not support the creation of Gorkhaland.

Asked if the GJM had set a precondition for engaging in a conversation with the state government, Swaraj Thapa, a spokesperson, said his party had only reiterated its stand. “We haven’t yet decided whether to take part in talks with the chief minister next week," he added.

Banerjee, however, denied receiving any letter from Gurung. She claimed the GJM through its co-ordinator Binoy Tamang had confirmed its participation in discussions to be held in Kolkata on 29 August.

Earlier this week, the GNLF wrote to the chief minister seeking a discussion with the state government to end the impasse in the hills. The general strike in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts is approaching 70 days and patience among the local people is wearing thin, according to Niraj Zimba, a spokesperson for the GNLF.

The union home minister Rajnath Singh asked Gorkha leaders to start a dialogue with the state government, following which the GNLF wrote to the state government in the interest of the local people who are suffering because of the strike, Zimba said.