Writes: Hillman – The Analyst (Alias Karma T. Pempahishey)
The above happens to be the headlines of The Statesman, North Bengal & Sikkim Plus, Siliguri 16 Sept 2015, are so conflictingly counterpoised surely the ordinary citizen will not be able to untangle the contextual implications i.e. the paramount statehood demand which has been incessant since 2007. For the sake of the ordinary reader this writer intends to explain the contesting issue in favour of GJM who asserts the statehood demand is constitutional and infact legally ensured to finally become a reality. This happens to be the writing on the wall but somewhere along the line, for some rhyme or reason GJM, seems to have lost the roadmap to the final destination of statehood, which requires but a few loose screws to be tightened in order for the vehicle to make it to the final post. GJM requires to identify the screws rattling the vehicle, and which of recent times is clearly visible in the formation of the powerful body Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) of West Bengal that statehood is but a stone throw away implying that this body is legally formed on account of the fact that since its inception in 2012 only after a gap of 56 years when West Bengal state was created in 1956. Infact the way this writer sees it is in total contrast to what it is made to believe, whereas the living truth lies in the fact that
(2) Now that West Bengal is within the Fifth Schedule (TAC) it is only a matter of simple adjustment whereby Parliament require to pass the Supreme Court Order/Ordinance/ Bill pending before the august Houses, particularly the areas under GTA is to be declared as Scheduled Area by the President which will finally provide the legal guarantee to comply state formation. As already mentioned in earlier discourses the Bill in question happens to be The Readjustment of Representation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies.
(3). After (2) it will simply be a matter of protocol for the Parliament to pass the statehood Bill for Darjeeling District under Arts. 368.
(4). Incidentally it requires to be explained that the Scheduled Tribes have been provided Development Boards not on the will and fancy of the Chief Minister but on account of Art. 371 (A)(b & c) under the Fifth Schedule provided by the Governor.
(5). Infact even the annual Central grant provided under Art.275(1) is to meet the revenue of such states for the development and promoting the welfare of the Scheduled Tribes. Therefore the Central assistance is in no way concerning development of GTA areas but specific to tribal development.
(6). The last straw is the demand of 11 Gorkha communities to be listed as Scheduled Tribes (Art.342), beats the gun firing a blank shot without a visible target. The tribal card is an issue which the State govt. has already rejected on basis of the final call from the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in the Centre. Or it is being used as a ruse to deflect the Fifth Schedule implications of demanding a Scheduled Area (which Bill is already on the anvil in Parliament) so that the BJP maybe saved from the political hustings in West Bengal Assembly elections in 2016.
In having defined the above one may note why the Bengal Chief Minister, Didi has blurted in asserting ‘Darjeeling will remain in Bengal’ happens to mean exactly the opposite to save an embarrassing position of the Fifth Schedule and Scheduled Area implication before the coming Assembly elections 2016. Obviously Bengal will do its best to avoid the partition at this point of time, before the 2016 elections which will upset the political balance entirely on the opposition bench.
Notwithstanding the above GJM is also not free from exposing the true impact of the Fifth Schedule possibly under the diktat of the BJP who are more concerned about their hustings in West Bengal than the statehood issue which is entirely on the backburner. Which is why they are harnessing the GJM to side shows like demand for a Central university, inviting companies for establishing ventures of sorts, etc., including the program of Baba Ramdev are stray cases which should be left untouched or undisturbed less it attracts undesired public glare and scrutiny. The best advice this writer can give to GJM now is to follow the constitutional path mapped above – the Fifth Schedule (TAC) whether disliked or liked is now a reality displaying the constitutional intention and therefore cannot be written off by any strength or will. GJM should join in and accept the reality and follow its ultimate destination. The GJM should take note to find out that at least 13 new states were created out of the Fifth Schedule (with Scheduled Areas). It is most surprising that the present MP S.S.Ahluwalia who was so vociferous in declaring in the Parliamentary Standing Committee 2007 on the Sixth Schedule that Darjeeling District was in the Fifth Schedule and even reprimanded Subhas Ghissing for his blunder. All this is recorded in print. So now the MP is silent on the Fifth Schedule in West Bengal betrays his intention – which seems to be the Assembly elections 2016, therefore it does not intend upsetting the present statuesque – not to divide West Bengal. In other words the election equation of the BJP is directly responsible for not allowing GJM to demand statehood – which happens to be passing the pending Supreme Court Order/Ordinance/Bill stated above. So now GJM must face the future with solid intent planking the statehood demand under constitutional guarantees and not run away from reality. It would be disastrous for GJM as a future aspect to run away from the responsible undertaking for which the party was established in 2007 – a state of Gorkhaland or what you will.
Karma T.Pempahishey is the Hillman -The Analyst and a freelance columnist.