|Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Morcha Chief Bimal Gururng - a file Photo|
Morcha unsure to meet Mamata on her visit to Darjeeling in January 21 to 23
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership is unsure of meeting chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits the Darjeeling hills for three days from January 21 to 23 to attend a government programme.
Ties between the chief minister and the GJM have developed cracks ever since the former has gone on a development board formation spree since 2013 for various hill communities. The GJM maintains that the chief minister is trying to divide the hill people to curb the popular demand for a separate state. The chief minister announced a development board for the Lepcha community in 2013 followed by one for the Tamangs a year later. Last year in January, the chief minister had announced a board for the Sherpas and again in August, for the Bhutias, after which she announced no more of such boards would be formed.
However, during her last visit to the hills in September 2015, the chief minister again said a development board would be formed for the Mangar community. She is expected to formally announce the board on January 23 at Chowrastha during the birth anniversary programme of Netaji Subash Chandra Bose. GJM leaders were tight-lipped when asked whether they would meet the chief minister. “Neither do we have information nor have we received any invitation for any government programme in Darjeeling. As such, we will not like to comment at the moment,” said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri. Sources in the party though said it was a known fact that the chief minister has done enough to antagonise the party.
“A decision is yet to be taken by the party on whether to meet the chief minister when she is in the hills. Given that the majority within the party feels Banerjee visits the hills only to create problems, it is unlikely that the leaderships will meet her,” one source reasoned. The Darjeeling district administration said invitations had not yet been dispatched to concerned bodies. “The January 23 programme at Chowrastha is being organised by the information and cultural affairs department and as such, I have no idea if an invitation has been sent to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration”, said Darjeeling district magistrate Anurag Srivastav.
Meanwhile, officials of the information and cultural affair department said an invitation would definitely be sent to the GTA soon. According to the tentative schedule, the chief minister will attend a function at the Safari Park in Jalpaiguri on January 21 and then head up to Darjeeling. On January 22, she will be present at the foundation day celebration of the Sherpa Cultural Board and prize distribution ceremony of the Himal Terai Dooars Sports Festival, the two programmes that will be held at the St. Joseph’s School ground in Singamari, Darjeeling. Banerjee will leave for Sukna on January 24 to flag off a students’ cycle rally and return to Kolkata the same day. (EOIC)