Showing posts with label GTA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GTA. Show all posts

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) threatens bandh in the Hills, Mamata warns no violence

8:19 AM
23rd Sep 2016 Darjeeling Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung has threatened to go for a bandh in the Hills on 23 September if Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee fails to give detail break up of this Rs 4000 crore which, according to the chief minister, has been given to the GTA.

"You carry forward several development schemes which you have already taken up. Our government will give money for such schemes. Don't worry for money. You just go ahead with your goals for developing the Hills," the chief minister Mamata Banerjee said, making it clear that her government would not allow any disruption in the ongoing development in Darjeeling.
Battle between Mamata and  Bimal Gurung
"Yesterday, she had announced that her government has given Rs 4000 crore to the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA). We want a detail break up of this Rs 4000 crore which, according to the chief minister, has been given to the GTA. If the chief minister Mamata Banerjee fails to give any break-up by September 27, we will go for bandhs in Darjeeling from September 28," Gurung said on Friday.

According to a PTI report, GJM chief Bimal Gurung said that CM stated that Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) was given Rs 4000 crore by the state government and that the CM should give details of the money spent.

"Let her give the details of the amount by 27 September. Failing which we will call a bandh on 28 September," he said.

"The state government is forcing us to call a strike," Gurung said in Darjeeling around 1pm today. "An atmosphere of agitation is building up in the hills. Tourists should check the situation before making their travel plans," he added.

Around two hours later in Kalimpong, Mamata said she would not allow any shutdown.

"There will be no bandh. We will not allow negative and disruptive politics," Mamata said, before specifying why tourism was so important for the livelihood of the people in the hills.

Following the call for bandh, Mamata threatened that her government will not allow any bandh in the Darjeeling Hills and will resist any attempts to disrupt the development activities in the region.

Banerjee said that instead of working for development, they are indulging in politics.

"We want peace in hills. We will not allow violence. Enough is enough. We must work for development. We have developed Lamahatta, Mirik, Tiger Hill, Lava Lolegaon. But they want to destroy it all by violence," she said.

"We will not stop the process of development in the hills. We want people to get employment. We are here to address the issues of the hills. If the hills smile, we will smile," she said.

Gurung - already reeling from a spate of defections from the Morcha to Trinamul - said today: "It is not good for a chief minister to speak in excitement. She has given us Rs 238 crore for the development of the hills in the past four years and now, she claims that she has given Rs 4,000 crore. Even if she includes the salaries of staff and administrative expenses, the figure is a lie," said Gurung.

Morcha leaders today rolled out a set of numbers to drill holes into Mamata's claims. Government sources also produced their fact sheet to prove the chief minister's point (see chart).

Amid the debate on whose numbers were right, Gurung issued the strike threat, first call of the kind from the Morcha after more than three years. The last phase of the shutdown went on for a month till September 10, 2013, over the Gorkhaland demand.

The chief minister has announced to set up a development board for the Gurungs in Darjeeling. Mamata  has already formed development boards for ten tribal groups in Darjeeling including Lepchas,Bhutias, Tamangs. Now she has announced to set up Gurung development board in Darjeeling after the Pujas.

He took care to explain the two other reasons behind the strike call - increasing interference in the affairs of the hills by the state government and an alleged attempt to divide the community.

Although Morcha leaders tried to stress that the main reason behind the strike call was to expose the state government, an official said the threat was an indicator that Gurung was getting increasingly restless with the turn of events.

"He is realising that he is losing control over the hills and the strike call is a desperate attempt by him to remain relevant. The state government would not let the strike happen and a confrontation is imminent," said the officer.

To start with, the Trinamul Congress is gnawing at the Morcha's support base by forming development boards.

During the last Assembly elections, the Morcha's winning margin in the three hill constituencies fell by 68.5 per cent, compared to the 2011 results

"The civic and panchayat elections will take place in a few months. Of the four civic bodies in the hills, we are comfortably ahead of the Morcha in Kalimpong, Kurseong and Mirik. Didi has endeared herself to the rural people in the hills through repeated visits. Gurung is doing all this to retain his turf. He is scared," said a Trinamul insider.

According to him, Gurung is aware that the GTA would become redundant if Trinamul performs well in the civic and panchayat polls as major government projects could be carried out through these elected bodies.

The GTA has already become a fringe player in the hills as the state government is using the development boards to shower benefits on various communities. Today, Mamata handed over a cheque for Rs 10 crore to the Tamang body to build houses for the poor before inaugurating a youth hostel.

"All the development boards are with us. Harka (Bahadur Chhetri, a former Morcha leader) is with us... Bharati Pradhan is with us. Ghisingh's son is with us. We have the support of the hills," said Mamata.

Tomorrow, Trinamul will deal another blow to the Morcha as PWD and youth affairs minister Aroop Biswas will preside over a programme, where hundreds of Morcha supporters would join the ruling party.

Various sources

Roshan Giri's Effigy burnt in Darjeeling

3:05 PM
DARJEELING 24 Aug 2016 More than 200 voluntary teachers of primary schools in the hills today burned the effigy of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabhasad Roshan Giri in Darjeeling town and submitted a mass resignation from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the party they were linked to.

Five hundred and nineteen teachers are presently serving voluntarily in 129 junior, high and higher secondary schools in the hills over the last 10-15 years. Now, these teachers, under the aegis of the Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO), want to be regularised. On July 8, the GJM disbanded the JISTO’s ‘movement committee’, a sub-unit that was spearheading the  regularisation demand after it went vocal about the party leadership’s inability to solve the issue.

The JISTO had issued an ultimatum to the GJM and the GTA to find a permanent solution failing which the unit had threatened to leave the party. “He (Giri) should quit as a Sabhasad on moral grounds, as he has failed to help us. Of what use is the GTA if it cannot even solve small issues like ours?” said Amit Gurung, spokesperson for the voluntary teachers.

Giri is the GTA Sabhasad in-charge of the education department and is also the GJM general secretary. A rally was organised by the voluntary teachers after which Giri’s effigy was burnt in Chowk Bazar  in protest.

The GJM general secretary though, was unfazed and said it was up to the voluntary teachers to do what they wanted. “If they (JISTO) want to burn my effigy, then who am I to stop them? If burning my effigy will fulfill them their demand, they are most welcome to do so,” retorted Giri when asked to comment.

On June 5, the GTA Sabhasad had met state education minister Partha Chatterjee in Kolkata and got an assurance that the process to regularise the voluntary teachers would be started as soon as the  state’s chief secretary gave direction to that effect. However, before that, on May 20, the joint secretary of the state school education department wrote to the home and hill affairs department saying  regularisation, absorption and appointment of voluntary teachers in the GTA could not be entertained until they secure their candidature through the West Bengal School Service Commission (SSC). But the SSC  has remained non-functional since 2003 in the hills.

Meanwhile, seven members of the Gorkha Janmukti Vidhyatrhi Morcha (GJVM) started an indefinite relay hunger strike today in Darjeeling in support of the demand for a separate state. The youth front has said this is to send a message to the central government. “We have nothing to do with the state government as the matter of giving a separate state lies with the Centre. Modiji has already said that the dreams of the Gorkhas were his too. So we want the central government to fulfill our demand,” said Satyam Lama, the GJVM president.

(EOIC)

Bimal Gurung's announcement to quit the GTA a "political gimmick" - Mamata Banerjee

10:42 AM
Writes Bireswar Banerjee

Siliguri, Aug. 24: Mamata Banerjee today termed as "political gimmick" Bimal Gurung's recent announcement that he would quit the GTA within three months.

The GTA chief executive had said on August 18 that he would quit the hill body "in the next two to two-and-a-half months" and start an agitation for a separate state.

Gurung had told a news conference that he was making the statement without consulting other GTA Sabha members or the central committee of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Asked about Gurung's statement, Mamata said at Sukna today: "This is just a political gimmick because whenever an election approaches in the hills, such announcements are made, as if they are opting for a voluntary retirement scheme. Municipality elections are due in January or February next year in the hills. Panchayat polls are also scheduled for that time, after which election to the GTA will be held."

During the last phase of the Gorkhaland movement in 2013, Gurung had resigned as the chief executive of the hill body on July 30 but again assumed office on December 26 the same year.

Gurung had repeatedly been saying at almost every public meeting that he was not interested in any position. "If I was bothered about the GTA chair, I could have developed a very close relation with the state government and lived comfortably," Gurung said on August 18.

Mamata said today that there was no place for armed movements in a democracy. She said any armed movement in the hills would be dealt with according to the law.

"I am always in favour of development and against any armed movement. But it is under some influence or sometime even with the help of Delhi that such issues are raised, which I think common people of the hills will not support. So many tourists are expected to come to the hills during Durga Puja and Diwali, which will help generate income for traders and residents. In case there is an armed movement, the law will take its own course," she said.

Gurung hadn't said yet that he would launch an armed movement for Gorkhaland.

Asked about the kind of agitation he had in mind on August 18, the Morcha president said: "The type of agitation, its form, everything will be known as and when it is decided."

Addressing a public meeting in Darjeeling on August 7, the Morcha president had urged the hills youths to "talk their hearts out", making an indirect reference to a movement.

Today, Mamata didn't refer to any of those statements by Gurung.

She welcomed GTA Sabha chairman and Morcha vice-president Pradip Pradhan joining Trinamul Congress today.

"There are so many talented people in the hills. They should come forward and take part in the development of the hills, which are lagging behind in growth by more than 25 years. We are discharging our duties and responsibilities. If we get a chance in future, we will make the hills prosperous," said Mamata.
Mamata said she might visit Kalimpong in September. "There is an annual programme of Lepcha community in Kalimpong and apart from that, Kalimpong will be a new district. Keeping these things in view, I may visit Kalimpong next month," she said.

Asked about Mamata's comments: Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: "It is our right to decide when to resign or not. We don't need to seek permission from Mamata Banerjee in this regard."

He went on: "The demand of Gorkhaland has not been dropped and this has also been mentioned in the memorandum of agreement of the GTA. It is our constitutional and democratic right to demand Gorkhaland. Our agitation will be peaceful and democratic in nature."

Referring to Mamata's statement that municipal and panchayat polls would be held simultaneously early next year in the hills, he said: "We believe in democratic processes. Regarding, panchayat elections, it has been mentioned in the GTA agreement that a three-tier election will be held in the hills. We will welcome the three-tier election as we want the state government to honour the GTA agreement."

Via telegraph


Pradip Pradhan joined Trinamul blaming GJM not delivering on its promise

10:19 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, Aug. 24: Bhupendra Pradhan, a founder member of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the GTA chairperson, today joined Trinamul, blaming the hill party for failing to deliver on its promise of development.

Pradhan, who is better known as Pradip, joined the state's ruling party in the public meeting at the Kurseong Motor Stand in the presence of Trinamul minister Aroop Biswas.

Pradhan said his decision to join the Trinamul was to ensure development in the hills, particularly Kurseong. He accused the Morcha of failing to carry out any development work in the past four years.

The GTA elections are expected to be held around July 2017. The Morcha today decided to expel Pradhan.

The hill leader arrived at the venue in the car of Biswas, who is Trinamul's observer for north Bengal.

He said the Morcha leadership was not sincere about the Gorkhaland demand and added that if a sincere leader comes ahead for statehood, he would definitely support the demand.

"In the past four years, we have been able to do nothing for the hills. I have had a talk with Mamata Banerjee and she has promised to look into issues related to the development of Kurseong. I have also raised the issue of granting district status to Kurseong. I am confident that with the TMC, there will be development here," Pradhan said.

He, however, said that if development was not ushered in even by Trinamul, he could think of leaving his new party too.

Pradhan accused the Morcha of corruption, saying some party leaders "did not have the means to even buy a good brand of cigarettes" but now "when they go to Bagdogra airport they enquire about the cost of a helicopter run by the Sikkim government. Where has this confidence come from?"

At the sidelines of the meeting, Pradhan said Bimal Gurung would not resign from the GTA as he had recently threatened. "He will not resign, note it down, as there is money in GTA," Pradhan said.

Pradhan urged the people to ponder over why Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Anmole Prasad, Trilok Dewan and Amar Lama had left the hill's biggest party.

Pradhan said in the next three months, the Morcha will have "only 20 per cent support" in the hills.

Morcha to oust Pradhan
The central committee of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today decided to expel Bhupendra Pradhan, popularly known as Pradip Pradhan, who switched to Trinamul today, from the party.

Soon after the central committee session, the GTA Sabha members met at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and submitted a written request to the GTA Sabha vice-chairman, Lopsang Yolmo, to convene a special meeting where, sources said, they would seek the removal of Pradhan as the GTA chairman.

The meeting is likely to be held on August 26.

Morcha general secretary and the GTA Sabha member in-charge of education, Roshan Giri, said: "At the central committee meeting, we discussed the Gorkhaland issue. The party has also decided to expel Pradip Pradhan from the primary membership."

A source in the GTA said: "According to Section 37 of the GTA Act, a special meeting can be requisitioned by one-third of the Sabha members and once the vice-chairman convenes a meeting, the chairman can be removed by a resolution adopted by a simple majority of the total number of elected members of the GTA Sabha."

There are 45 elected members in the GTA Sabha.

The Morcha has also decided to hold a public meeting in Kurseong on Sunday.

According to sources, the move is an attempt to boost the morale of party cadres in the area and counter the Trinamul gathering where Pradhan switched allegiance.

Today, around 300 voluntary teachers, who were members of the Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO) Movement Committee, burnt the effigy of Giri here before resigning from the Morcha.

The hill party had disbanded the Movement Committee last month after some of the members had criticised Giri alleging that he had not been working towards regularising the jobs of the 500-odd voluntary teachers in more than 120 schools across the hills.

Amit Gurung, the co-ordinator of the erstwhile Movement Committee, said: "We burnt the effigy of Roshan Giri today. Around 300 members have resigned from the party. We will soon meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee and decide our future course of action."

The teachers have decided to remain apolitical at the moment, sources said.

Told about the development, Giri said: "If by burning my effigy, their jobs are regularised, they are most welcome to burn my effigy everyday."

At Darjeeling Motor Stand, the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha started a relay hunger strike "for Gorkhaland" today with seven student leaders participating in it.

Satyam Lama, the president of the Vidyarthi Morcha, said: "Our hunger strike is a message that our agitation is democratic in nature. We demand that the Centre open a dialogue on Gorkhaland and efforts be taken to constitute a committee to look into our demand."


Via Telegraph

GJM youth supports Gurungs agitation for a separate state of Gorkhaland

5:21 PM
DARJEELING 19 Aug 2016 A day after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung announced he would resign from the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to spearhead an agitation for a separate  state, the party’s youth front pledged wholehearted support to his decision asserting they were ready to shed the Gandhi-wadi style of struggle.

Bolstered by Gurung’s speech on August 7 in Darjeeling where he urged the youths to promote agitation, almost all GJYM leaders today emphasised the need to give up the GTA for the sake of securing a separate Gorkha state. “We welcome our party president’s decision to quit the GTA and start the statehood agitation. We have are being suppressed by the state government while the central government appears least interested in our issue. Now we cannot continue with the Gandhi-wadi Andolan because the water has gone over our heads,” thundered Barood Thapa, the GJYM Kalimpong sub-division president, in a public meeting held today in Darjeeling.

The youth wing supports Gurung’s decision to kick-off an agitation, but it also wants the GTA to be discarded outright. “Allegations have been hurled by the Opposition that an agitation cannot be started while running the GTA. By doing away with the council, our party president will give a fitting reply to the detractors and that is exactly what we want,” said Thapa.
Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha (GJYM)
Gorkha Janmukti Yuwa Morcha (GJYM)
During the last phase of the Gorkhaland movement in 2013, Gurung had resigned as the chief executive of the GTA on July 30 but assumed office again on December 26 of that year. Last year too, on September 10, Gurung had threatened to resign but did not carry out his threat.

Thapa also warned of a Kashmir-like situation in Darjeeling in a thinly veiled threat to the state and central governments to get their attention. “We have pledged to follow Gandhian principles and have done so. But now we will be forced to make Darjeeling into another Kashmir if the central government does not give us justice,” warned Thapa.

Samardeep Blone, the Kurseong sub-division general secretary of the GJYM, put the onus on the Centre to come true on its assurances. He said BJP leaders should take note of the situation developing in the hills. “Through this public meeting, we want to ask the Prime Minister when would his statement of ‘Gorkha ka sapna, mera sapna’ become a reality. We are also tired of requesting the Darjeeling MP of placing our demand in Parliament. Now time has come for the BJP led Centre to keep its promise as mere assurances will not work anymore,” he said.

Other youth leaders took barbs at the hill TMC, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and Jan Andolan Party (JAP) alleging they had sold the statehood demand for petty politics. “They speak what they are directed by Bengal. The 1986 agitation was compromised because of betrayers and the same is happening now. But now we will not forgive the betrayers,” said Bhim Subba, president of the GJM Bijanbari-Goke constituency.

Meanwhile in Kurseong, GTA Sabhasad Anit Thapa said eight Sabhasads including himself would also resign if the party president went ahead and quit.

GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the decision taken by the Sabhasads from Kurseong sub-division to resign was right. “The decision by the Sabhasads from Kurseong is a right one. We expect more Sabhasads to follow suit. We will be holding meetings over the next few days to discuss the issue,” said Giri, who is also a Sabhasad from the Sitong-Latpanchar constituency.

GTA Sabhasads Anit Thapa, Yogendra Rai, Anju Thapa, Ratan Thapa, Pranay Thapa, Prabha Chhetri, Mahendra Pradhan and Champa Bibar from Kurseong and Mirik sub-divisions today announced  they would also follow suit if the GJM president did go ahead and resign from the GTA within two and two and half months, as announced on Thursday.

“We will only do politics after we achieve a separate state. Our party president has decided to resign and start an agitation and we will follow him as a separate state is our ultimate aspiration,” said Yogendra Rai, Sabhasad of the Kurseong town-Deorali constituency, after a meeting in Kurseong this evening.GJM youth front welcomes Bimal Gurung's announcment to quit GTA.

(EOIC)

Youths should talk about Agitation like the 86 agitation - BImal Gurung

8:31 AM
Writes: Vivek Chhetri

At a public meeting of the Gorkha Yuva Morcha, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s youth wing, in his constituency of Vah-Tukvar, Gurung said: “I had told the youths I should not speak here because if I am to speak or chair (the meeting), your voices would be held back.”

He said: “The youths should speak their hearts out, the youths should talk about dignity, about the land, the land wanting blood. The youth brigade should talk about an agitation like the ’86 agitation, They should talk about lifting guns and wielding khukuris. This is what I had told them.”

Observers said Gurung wanted to draw the Centre’s attention with his speech. At one point in his 45-minutes speech, Gurung said: “I have told the Centre that we have extended all support and it is your duty to show us by doing karma (good deeds).” The Morcha chief’s anger at the state government’s supposed interference in hill affairs was clear.
Youths should talk about Agitation like the 86 agitation - BImal Gurung
Bimal Gurung in his constituency Tukvar
Gurung told the youths, about 1,000 were in attendance, that playing madals and chabrungs (musical instruments) would not lead to any “struggle”.

In the rest of his speech, Gurung repeatedly mentioned the state government’s alleged “discriminatory” attitude towards the hills.

“Everyone is bullying us, looking down upon us,” Gurung said. “We should live a life of dignity and not that of a coward. One should even be ready to give one’s life,” he said.

The 1986 statehood agitation Gurung was referring to had gone on for around 28 months. It was led by Subash Ghisingh, then Gurung’s leader, but later his rival.

Around 1,200 people had lost their lives during the statehood movement.

“The Bengal government is dividing our community. The black policy of the Bengal government towards the hills is creating such a situation that there could even be a division between husband and wife if they come from different communities. One should not give up one’s dignity for a toilet, a one-room house,” Gurung said, criticising chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s plan to make hill bodies for various hill communities.

The state government has announced development boards for 10 communities and among the major initiatives taken up by the boards, one is to construct toilets and houses for people of the respective communities.

Gurung said: “This (meeting) could be a turning point.”

The Morcha chief said he was increasingly feeling that the GTA cannot function. “There has just been too much interference in the working of the GTA. What is the use of a body that cannot even recruit a peon in the hills. Perhaps you will one day find me in a jungle. You must love me even then because I will be there for the cause of Gorkhaland,” he said.

The hill leader reminded the youths that nothing came without struggle. “One does not achieve anything without a struggle and struggle is not about playing madal and chabrung (musical instruments),” he said.

[Via: Telegraph]

Didi's Development Board win support in Darjeeling

7:09 PM
Amitava Banerjee, HT, 31 July 2016, Darjeeling:At the time when Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been labelling the creation of numerous development boards as “divide and rule policy” of the state government, the Biswakarma Youth Association (BYA) has rallied for the development boards saying development activities of these boards will result in the uplift of Gorkhas as a whole. The state government has created development boards for 10 Gorkha communities inviting flak from GJM. The Morcha claims the state government is trying to divide the Gorkhas by creating development boards for various Gorkha sub-communities.

“It is a ploy to dilute the Gorkhaland demand. It is divide and rule policy of the government,” alleged Bimal Gurung, president, GJM.

Gurung’s stand on the development boards has been sketchy. On one hand, he has alleged that the development boards are dividing the Gorkha society; on the other hand, the same Gurung claims he does not have any problem with the development boards provided the boards are under the control of GJM run Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and not the state government.
Didi's Development Board win support in Darjeeling
“The development boards are in no way weakening Gorkha society. Development boards will strengthen the sub-communities thereby strengthening the entire Gorkha community. Rather than weakening the Gorkha community, the Gorkha community is being strengthened by the boards,” said KB Baraily, chief co-ordinator, BYA.

On July 13, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced the formation of three development boards for Kami (Biswakarma), Damai and Sarki sub-communities in the presence of the President of India and Governor of West Bengal in Darjeeling.


Gorkhaland : Support, Opposition & Lip Sympathy

10:10 AM
Writes: NN Ojha

Gorkhaland 18th July 2016: It is precisely five years since the tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and the GJMM. Incidentally 18 July 2011 too was a Monday like it is five years later today.

As the hills prepared for celebrations to mark the signing of the accord parts of Siliguri were bracing up for a protest shut down called by ‘Bangla O Banbla Bhasha Bachao Committee’ (BOBBBC), an outfit claiming to be apolitical committed to safeguarding the language and culture of the Bengalis.

Opposition to the accord from organisations like BOBBBC could be simply ignored. What needed to be noted seriously was the manner in which West Bengal’s (then) newly elected CM Mamta Banerjee sought to disown the agreement in letter and spirit even before she left the venue where it had just been signed. The memorandum signed by her home secretary in her presence and in the presence of the country’s home minister P. Chidambaram was, “keeping on record the demand of the GJMM for a separate state of Gorkhaland……..”. But here was Mamta Banerjee stating, “Statehood cannot be granted to the region……….. Bengal is not going to be divided…..”.
Tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India, Government of West Bengal and the GJMM.
Tripartite agreement setting up GTA was signed between the Government of India,
Government of West Bengal and the GJMM. 
With GJMM supremo Bimal Gurung stating at the same venue, “GTA was not a compromise on its demand for a separate state and was, in fact, a step in that direction”, it was clear how the just signed agreement and its creation GTA were being pulled in opposite direction with overwhelming force. The result that could be expected was status quo in the best case scenario if neither side out -forced the other or snapping of the rope that held it together and total collapse if any one of the two pulled little harder.

Reactions from most mainstream national parties sounded disappointing for us and at the same time encouraging for Ms Banerjee. Indian National Congress the party to which Home Minister P Chidambaram in whose ‘august presence’ the agreement was signed belonged made no bones about its dislike to the idea of ‘dismembering’ West Bengal.

Leftist leader Surya Kant Misra found the term ‘Gorkhaland’ in the nomenclature of the proposed GTA fraught with prospects of ‘disunity’. Mr Misra apparently forgot that the nomenclature was decided upon during the rounds of tripartite talks held when the Left Front was in power.

Most shocking reaction was to come from the BJP. The party’s West Bengal unit opposed the use of the word Gorkhaland in the name of the proposed body GTA as the word ‘could stoke separatist sentiments in the region’. Coming from the party to whom the people of Gorkhaland had already given one precious Loksabha seat in 2009 the reaction was nothing but ironical.

Has anything changed since 2011 as the Congress’s alliance with TMC is passé, the hill people had helped the Left in Siliguri Municipal Corporation elections and the BJP has once again been gifted the Darjeeling Loksabha seat by us in the 2014 elections? Absolutely nothing, if we look at their manifestos for the latest 2016 state assembly elections. The word Gorkhaland is completely missing across the board from left to congress to BJP. We don’t exist because we don’t matter to any of them.

When we look at the hill based political parties the picture is rather hazy as most of them are vague and ambivalent? The GNLF already carrying the historical baggage of having dropped the demand for Gorkhaland in 1988 and subsequently having bargained for Sixth schedule status ‘as full and final settlement’ still continues to be unsure of their stand. Mrs Bharti Tamang having inherited the glorious legacy of the Late Madan Tamang’s unwavering support for Gorkhaland is unfortunately weighed down by her personal grief that apparently stops her from making common cause with any platform having Bimal Gurung on it. About JAP less said the better. They are in favor of Gorkhaland with consensus of the central and the State government knowing well that no government in west Bengal will ever consent to what they call ‘Banglar bivag’. Could it be that the party has included Gorkhaland in their manifesto only out of political expediency and not commitment?

Thus at the national level TMC, the Left parties and Congress are against Gorkhaland. For BJP it is a matter of political expediency. Those of their leaders who owe their political survival to the hills profess support while the entire state unit of west Bengal is opposed and the national leadership remains totally noncommittal. At the local level there is near unanimity on the issue but a united front to pursue the common cause is not being forged because of ego hassles which must be overcome in larger interest of the region.

Where do we go from here and what do we do? A multitude of opinions is expressed almost on daily basis in the press and also in the social media. There are some who argue that GTA should be wound up as a prelude to an all out ‘do or die’ type struggle. Others call for a change of leadership to let the rationale of the demand be felt at a broader national level, especially in the corridors of power in New Delhi.

I will give you my take for whatever it is worth.

First, GTA should not be dumped by us. In fact that is what the TMC led west Bengal government would wish so as to facilitate its its propaganda that having been unable to run a small institution like the GTA how can we be trusted with the running of a full fledged state. We should play hard-ball to ensure that the west Bengal government complies with the legal, political, administrative and financial obligations of the GTA agreement in toto. My own guess is faced with such prospects it is the west Bengal government itself who will either transfer control on all the agreed upon subjects to us, or, will itself announce breaking up of the GTA. If we get control as per the agreement it will be a precursor to statehood and if it results in break up of the GTA the blame for not being able to run the institution won’t lay at our door.

Second, steps must be taken to strengthen the GTA so as to make it an instrument of clean governance and effective delivery of services to the public. For this the leadership of GTA will have to broaden its HR base by inducting experts and experienced generalist administrators. At present there is perceptible lack of strong bureaucratic support structure and an effective PR mechanism.

Third, all the political parties of the region must forge a common platform to carry forward the demand for statehood. We have shown our ability to forge such unity in July-August 2013 in the form of GJAC. Let that spirit of GJAC be revived. GJMM being the leading political force of the region must take proactive initiative in this direction.

Last but not least, message has to go to the BJP that they have to treat us as equal partners in the political venture that has to be as much for the welfare of the region as for the BJP’s own political benefit. At present the later seems to be the case. Our MP who apart from being a seasoned politician is now a powerful member of he central cabinet has to use his good offices to further the cause of Gorkhaland in the Parliament.

In the wide range of opinions that we keep coming across I haven’t come across a single voice against the idea of Gorkhaland or in favor of the region continuing as an adjunct of West Bengal. Notwithstanding west Bengal establishment’s crude attempts to divide and rule the entire region emerges as a solid monolith. Therein lies our strength that no one can ever defeat. It is upto us and the political leaders of the region to put this underlying unity of the masses to constructive use.

NN Ojha writes exclusively for DT and TheDC


 
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