Showing posts with label Trinamool Congress. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trinamool Congress. Show all posts

Gorkha Janamukti Morcha Wins all 3 Hill Constituencies in Assembly Election 2016

3:15 PM
19th May 2016 Gorkha Janamukti Morcha has won all three Hill Constituencies, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong in Assembly Election 2016.‎ Morcha candidates Amar Rai won from Darjeeling Dr Rohit Sharma won from Kurseong and Sarita Rai from Kalimpong.

Amar Rai, Darjeeling Municipal Chairman, secured  95386  votes and won by 49913 votes in Darjeeling where TMC Sarad Rai Subba got 45473 votes.

GJM‬ candidate Sarita Rai with 67693 votes Won by 11431 vote at ‪Kalimpong‬ Constituency where she had to face a tough fight from former MLA Dr Harka Bahadur Chettri Jan Andolan Party ( JAP) with around 56262 votes.

Similarly, In Kurseong  Dr. Rohit Sharma was able to retain his Legislative Assembly seat. Dr Sharma got over 86947 and comfortably won by 33726 votes. Shanta Chhetri for All India Trinamool Congress got around 53221 votes from the constituency.
 GJM candidates Amar Rai won from Darjeeling, Dr Rohit Sharma won from Kurseong and Sarita Rai from Kalimpong.
 GJM candidates Amar Rai won from Darjeeling, Dr Rohit Sharma won from Kurseong and Sarita Rai from Kalimpong.

With GJM winning in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong, Congress is winning in Matigara, Phansidewa and Islampur and CPI(M) winning in Siliguri there is no trace of TMC in Darjeeling District.

The tie up of GJM & BJP secured the alliance a total of seven seats in West Bengal, the best so far for BJP in the state. While BJP won Kharagpur and Baisnabnagar, its alliance with GJM sealed the victory in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong, Kalchini and Madarihat.

GJM TMC joint press conference - Rare bonhomie

8:12 AM
Via Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, May 4: A rare political scene unfolded in Darjeeling today when Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-controlled municipality, held a joint press conference with the Trinamul Congress (hill) leadership in his chamber.

The Trinamul leaders met the chairman to submit a memorandum that dealt with issues like the collapse of a staircase in Darjeeling town last month and settlement of hawkers. Nobody could recollect Trinamul and the Morcha displaying bonhomie at least in the recent past as was shown today.

Although there had been ups and downs in the equations between the Morcha and Trinamul, for a couple of years, both the parties have been on a warpath. In fact, one of the Morcha's main mottos in the Assembly election was the defeat of Trinamul which the hill party alleged was dividing the region.
GJM TMC joint press conference - Rare bonhomie
Darjeeling municipality chairman Rai and Trinamul leaders hold the
 joint news conference. (Suman Tamang)
Rai was the Morcha's candidate for the Darjeeling Assembly seat, while one of the Trinamul delegation members, Sharda Rai Subba, was also in the fray.

N.B. Khawash, the general secretary, Trinamul (hill), and Milan Dukpa, a nominated GTA Sabha member, were also part of the delegation. The Trinamul leaders, who had obtained an appointment to submit the memorandum, reached the Darjeeling municipality office around 3pm today.

Rai, along with vice-chairman Suk Bahadur Biswakarma, and other officials met the delegation for more than an hour in the chairman's chamber. Soon after the meeting, Khawash met the waiting journalists outside the chairman's chamber. At that particular moment, Sharda Rai Subba suggested that the media could be addressed jointly by the chairman and the delegation on the outcome of the meeting.

Khawash then returned to the chairman's chamber with the proposal which was instantly agreed upon by Rai.

Rai said: "TMC leaders today came to submit a deputation as concerned residents of the town and we had a very fruitful discussion in a congenial atmosphere."

The memorandum was on the collapse of a staircase connecting HD Lama Road and Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling, possibility of a sabotage in the recent fire at a municipality building at Daroga Bazar, steps against high-rises and the issue of permanent settlement of hawkers.

"The municipality has informed the delegation that the staircase collapsed because of the construction of a market complex. We have filed an FIR against the builders, directed them to construct the staircase and stop the work on the market complex now. The municipality will also be monitoring the construction at every stage," said Rai.

Trinamul said the width of the staircase should not be narrowed. On the Daroga Bazar fire, the Darjeeling municipality said an FIR had been filed and it was looking at the police's investigation.

Khawash said: "We thank the municipality for giving us time and hearing our grievances. We just want the municipality to show the political will to tackle the issues and Trinamul will also support the civic body."

Asked if the move to raise municipality-centric issues was prompted by the civic election which is due at the end of the year, Khawash said: "No, we simply raised the issues today as concerned people and it has nothing to do with elections."

Via Telegraph

TMC demands re-poll in eight booths in Darjeeling Assembly constituency

9:28 AM
TMC for re-poll in eight booths

Writes Rajeev Ravidas and Vivek Chhetri

April 18: The Trinamul Congress in the hills today alleged that there was widespread rigging at eight booths in Darjeeling Assembly constituency and demanded re-poll in all of them.

N.B. Khawash, the general secretary, Trinamul (hills), said: "We want re-poll at eight booths. We have received complaints that there was widespread rigging in the booths. Moreover, two Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters were arrested while casting false votes at a booth in Singamari."

The ruling party today wrote to the district election officer (Darjeeling district magistrate) seeking the re-poll.

District magistrate Anurag Srivastava said the scrutiny of the EVMs had been held this morning in the presence of the candidates or their representatives. "I was also present. But none raised the allegation of rigging. The re-poll can be ordered only by the election observer," he said.

In another development, traffic in Kalimpong town came to a grinding halt for an hour this morning when some polling officials staged a road blockade at Thanadara. They were protesting against the authorities' alleged failure to provide them with vehicles to return home after overseeing the polling.

About 80 polling officials blocked the road.

A senior election officer, however, said some of the polling officials did not want to make a late night journey and stayed back on their own.

The protesters were finally given vehicles to go home.

Via Telegraph

Darjeeling demanding Gorkhaland - Story of every election in West Bengal

6:34 PM
Why Gorkhaland is still a hot issue in Darjeeling when azadi from West Bengal is a non-starter

Delhi and Kolkata have both effectively shut the door on a separate hill state for the Nepali-speaking district.

It is the story of every election in West Bengal: Darjeeling demanding Gorkhaland, a separate hill state, partitioned from the plains of Bengal. And it is the same as it votes on Sunday in the West Bengal Assembly elections.

Political demands are always contested, but it is true that the Darjeeling region was never politically a part of Bengal in any form. It was annexed by the British Raj in 1850, taken from an exceedingly weak Sikkim, a princely state itself annexed by India in 1975. Bundled into the Bengal presidency by the British, Darjeeling has remained in Bengal even after 1947. This is even after the 1955 States Reorganisation Committee had successfully arranged Indian states according to language. Nepali-speaking Darjeeling district, therefore, is an incongruous part of Bangla-speaking West Bengal.
Darjeeling demanding Gorkhaland
Amar Singh Rai, the Darjeeling constituency candidate for the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha is clear that the demand for Gorkhaland is based on ethnic identity. “We want a homeland for ourselves ­–­ for our own identity,” he said. “Although we are bona fide Indian citizens, we are still called ‘Nepali’. To get rid of the stigma we feel it’s essential that we have our own state.”

Popular demand
The Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha is the largest party in Darjeeling and it campaigns on almost a single-point agenda: the creation of a Gorkhaland state. The popularity of the Gorkhaland demand can be seen from the fact that in the 2011 Assembly elections, the GJM picked up 79% of all votes caste across the three constituencies in Darjeeling district. In Darjeeling town, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), widely seen as a Bengali party in the hills, received all of 3.5% of the votes cast.

Rai alleges that there is ethnic discrimination at play here, with the hills being ignored by the Kolkta's Bengali rulers. “Gorkhaland is a right of self-determination for us since West Bengal is oblivious to us,” Rai charged. “They don’t care about the tea industry or the rights of the tea garden workers.”

Support for Gorkhaland is starkly visible across Darjeeling town. Stores invariably list their address as “Gorkhaland” rather than the “West Bengal” it officially is.

Anup Chhetri sells winter wear in the busy Chowk Bazar area of Darjeeling town and is clear in his support for a new state. “We who live here need to decide what will happen with our land,” he argued. “How can people sitting in Kolkata or Delhi decide things about our home?”

Pie in the sky
In spite of this fervour, the Gorkhaland demand is now widely seen as a pipe dream. The demand has existed in some form or the other for a century now, culminating in a violent agitation in the 1980s led by the Gorkha National Liberation Front. The agitation led to the creation of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, a local government body to which the state government transferred some administrative powers. A 2007 agitation led by a new party and current incumbent, the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha, led to the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, with its powers expanded vis-à-vis the earlier Hill Council.

The revenue from the tea and tourism industry, though, means that Kolkata is extremely reluctant to let go of Darjeeling completely. And while the final decision to create a new state rests with the Union government – and not West Bengal – given the tiny population of Darjeeling, no ruling party in Delhi would wish to antagonise Kolkata. The political trade-off in terms of support from Darjeeling is simply too small.

Cracks in Gorkhaland
Recognising this ground politics at play, critics of the all-or-nothing demand for Gorkhaland have also emerged. From the Kalimpong constituency, the Gorkhaland Janmukti Morcha is being opposed by Harka Bahadur Chettri, who broke away from the GJM in 2015, complaining that their voluble demand for Gorkhaland was simply a ploy to garner votes and one that was actually harming the development of the region.

This is not the only dissension at play. During her term as chief minister, Mamata Banerjee created multiple “development boards” aimed at specific minority ethnicities, other than the majority Gorkhas ­– a move that Amar Singh Rai angrily characterised as a “policy of divide and rule”. In the past five years, Kolkata has formed six boards for the Lepcha, Tamang, Rai, Sherpa, Bhutia and Mangar communities. Even the Trinamool candidate from Siliguri town, another Gorkha-Bengali contested space, is a Bhutia – India’s best-know footballer, Baichung Bhutia.

These ground realities mean that no matter the fervour on the ground and its use as a vote catcher, the creation of an actual Gorkha state seems quite unlikely.


Didi banks on divide and rule policy in Hills

9:54 AM
Writes Drimi Chaudhuri

April 17, 2016, Darjeeling As the Hills go to polls on Sunday, an issue that takes prominence among others is Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s decision to form development boards for individual ethnic communities.

While this could help the Trinamool Congress chief break the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha’s monopoly and help her gain a foothold in the area, most local leaders criticise her policy of “divide and rule”.

Mamata initiated the process of forming development boards for Hill communities — Lepcha, Mangar, Sherpa, Bhutia, Limbu and Rai— in 2014. Much to the chagrin of Morcha leaders, the process rendered the autonomous administrative body, Gorkha Territorial Administration, somewhat ineffective as the state government started releasing funds for these communities bypassing Morcha leaders, who dominate the autonomous body.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung said the move was taken for “political gain”. “The boards have only built toilets; there has been no real development,” he said.
Gurung found support from Manish Rana Mangar, assistant secretary of Mangar Sangh Bharat.

“The formation of these boards is a ploy to create friction between communities. It has become clear that this was done with the Assembly polls in mind. The government’s long-term plan seems to divide Gorkhas so that no one can demand a separate state in future.”

Gurung’s bête noir Hadka Bahadur Chhetri, who left the Morcha to form his own outfit, however, countered the criticism.

“Morcha leaders are unhappy because the government is directly releasing funds to these boards, which makes it difficult for Gurung and his associates to make money,” he alleged.

He claimed that most of these communities are moving away from Morcha due to the corruption and nepotism of its leaders. Chhetri found support from Neema Shering Sherpa, convenor of the Sherpa Cultural Board. “The board is not confined to community development; it has also given us a separate identity. The demand for Gorkhaland is like a fairy tale, it’s a sentiment. We’ve been with this demand and continue to be with it but common people have always been short-changed in the name of Gorkhaland,” Sherpa said.

Palden Bhutia, chairman of the West Bengal Bhutia Development Board, said, “Everybody used to think Gorkhas were the only community here but now they realise there are others too.

 “Unlike earlier times, when funds used to be sourced through leaders, the money is now going to the needy people only. This makes a lot of people unhappy.”

Sources said Banerjee was unhappy with Trinamool’s failure in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when she fielded ace footballer Bhaichung Bhutia, a move she hoped would help her get a grip on the Hills, which has been out of bounds for mainstream parties since Gorkha National League Front started the Gorkhaland agitation in 1986. “The Left preferred to keep Gorkha leaders in good humour and formed an autonomous hill council. Leaders became flush with crores in government funds but the area remained under-developed. If the boards can manage to change that, it would be a welcome change,” said Darjeeling-based political analyst PN Lama.

Lama, however, pointed out that Mamata’s decision to form individual community boards is in essence a reversal of the unifying process 19th Century Nepalese poet Bhanu Bhakta Acharya had undertaken.

Besides translating the Ramayana from Sanskrit, he had brought together Gorkha tribes and created a nationalistic identity.

A large number of local residents say that their support for Gorkhaland notwithstanding, most would prefer development in terms of education, healthcare and employment so people do not have to move to metropolitan cities in search of jobs.

Via deccanherald

Many a muddle in Hill election season

9:06 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, April 15: The hills, in every way alive to a multi-pronged election season, is also in the middle of a comedy of confusions.

A contestant from Darjeeling's oldest party decided at the eleventh hour that fighting an election was not what his family wanted him to do.

His indecisive party chief first pledged support to Trinamul, then retracted.

Trinamul also hit Harka Bahadur Chhetri with a bolt from the blue by making him the ruling party's official candidate from Kalimpong when the hill leader had planned to contest on his own party's symbol.

But first about Laxman Pradhan of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL), which is the oldest party in the Darjeeling hills.

The ABGL announced Pradhan as its Darjeeling candidate, but on the last day of filing nominations, March 29, Pradhan had a rethink.

When this newspaper called up Pradhan on March 29 to find out about his nomination, he said: "We are trying to find another candidate."

Pradhan explained: "I am actually not contesting as my family members are against it as I am a diabetic and have high blood pressure."

The call was made at 10.30am and Pradhan was confident that by 2pm, an alternative candidate would be found.

Well, no one was found. The ABGL does not have a contestant in Darjeeling.

After this, for some inexplicable reason, the ABGL also decided not to contest from the Kurseong seat.

The drama did not end here.

Trinamul candidate Sharda Rai Subba and the entire party district leadership went to Rhododendron Dell, residence of ABGL president Bharati Tamang soon.

The media was called to the Dell and Bharati announced that her party would support Trinamul.

But the next day, the party did a U-turn.

The next day at a media conference at the ABGL office, Bharati said her announcement the day before was her personal thought and the party would only decide on the matter on April 10. Trinamul leaders were speechless on hearing this.

Sources in the ABGL said after announcing to support Trinamul, party leaders realised they had not taken into account that its candidate, Ganesh Lama, was contesting from Nagrakata in the Dooars against Trinamul. A tie-up with Trinamul in the hills would confuse voters.

On April 10, ABGL general secretary Pratap Khati said: "In Darjeeling and Kurseong we urge the people to use their conscience."

But immediately after, he put out a spoiler alert. "They, however, should vote against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha."

But what would the ABGL do in Kalimpong?

"We are not adverse to supporting the Jan Andolan Party (JAP)," said Khati. This did not clear the confusion completely because the JAP is an ally of Trinamul.

The JAP was hit by a bolt from the blue when its president Harka Bahadur Chhetri, was named the ruling party's official candidate.

Morcha president Bimal Gurung tried to deride Mamata Banerjee's move to make Kalimpong a separate district by claiming that the territory of Kalimpong had not been completely incorporated in the Indian union and it continued to be a land leased from Bhutan.

Via Telegraph

Gorkhaland Demand Remains Top Priority as Darjeeling Goes to Polls

2:00 PM
Writes Sougata Mukhopadhyay

With the political honeymoon with Mamata Banerjee now well and truly over, the demand for a separate state of Gorkhaland has returned to reverberate around the hills of Darjeeling.

This time the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has raked up the demand with the state elections as excuse. Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, Amar Rai, justifies the stand despite knowing well that only the Centre can fulfil that demand.

Amar Rai's counterpart in Kalimpong, Morcha candidate Sarita Rai is also hoping to garner support by reigniting the ethnic cause. It's a cause which Mamata Banerjee claims to have taken care of by forming the Gorkha Territorial Administration or GTA which is an autonomous body for hill administration.

"The demand for Gorkhaland is the mother of all our demands. You are saying that the state has no role to play. But we must raise the demand in the state assembly as well. Because when Gorkhaland will actually come into existence, it will be carved out of Bengal", Sarita Rai, Candidate, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Kalimpong said.
This time the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has raked up the demand with the state elections as excuse. Morcha candidate from Darjeeling, Amar Rai, justifies the stand despite knowing well that only the Centre can fulfil that demand.
Former leader of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Kalimpong, Harka Bahadur Chhetri quit the organisation and formed his own political umbrella, the Jan Andolan Party. Chhetri has now emerged as the most formidable opponent of the Morcha in the hills with support from the Trinamool Congress and is looking to change the political rhetoric of the hills.

Chhetri maintains that issue of separate statehood has pushed the real issues of the hills to the backdrop and has put the region in a vicious cycle.

Trinamool's Sharda Rai Subba, believes it's time to go beyond the frenzy of statehood.
"The urban areas are struggling, and the situation in the rural areas is far worse. There are no panchayats in the rural areas. As a result, government facilities for the rural poor are not reaching them", Sharda Rai Subba, Trinamool Congress candidate, Darjeeling said.

Morcha's popularity still remains on priority whereas the local issues of Darjeeling are likely to take a back seat in the upcoming polls on Sunday.

Via ibnlive

Why I am not voting for Trinmool, and Neither Should You

8:39 AM
Writes: Upendra for TheDC

FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2016 Much has been going on in the Darjeeling political scenario of late, for anyone remotely interested in politics these are an exciting time for the people in our region. We are literally spoilt for choices, issues range from the promised “development” to “Sikkim merger,” from formation of a “new district” to removing “corruption,” from ushering in a new era of “intellectual” politics to remaining steadfast in our quest for “Gorkhaland” statehood.

However of all the political parties in fray, I am confident that I won’t vote for Trinmool Congress, and I am hopeful that after reading my reasons for not voting for them, you will also reconsider your decision i.e. if you were planning on voting for them.

The obvious reason why people in Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars may not vote for TMC is because of their persistent stand against Gorkhaland. However, I don’t grudge them that. To be honest, CPI(M) and Congress are equally opposed to our fundamental demand, and so is Bengal BJP. Democracy is a number game, and no political party in their right mind would want to give up chances of winning 294 seats in the Bengal legislature and 42 MP seats by supporting Gorkhaland demand, which will at the most get them 6 MLA seats and 1 MP seat. In fact, it would be idiotic of TMC and every other party that hopes to make it big in Bengal not to oppose the demand for Gorkhaland.

My reason for not wanting to vote for TMC goes beyond the obvious. I am not voting for TMC for their utter disregard for the Gorkhali community, for undermining our very existence and for functionally turning us into a 2nd class citizen.
Here are some proof.

Disenfranchised Gorkhas
Politics is governed by one fundamental law and that is the “law of inclusion,” wherein the majority accommodate the needs of the minority, provide them with a level playing field, and most important of all treat them as equal. As far as TMC is concerned, we are disposable, and our lack of adequate voting numbers is perhaps the reasons why they have taken us for granted and continue to do so.

There was a time tested tradition, a political courtesy that every government of Bengal extended to the Gorkhas, that of sending in one Gorkha MP to the Rajya Sabha. Congress used to do it and CPI(M) honoured that tradition. Shri Dawa Lama and later Shri Saman Pathak – both Gorkhas – were nominated to the Rajya Sabha by CPI(M) prior to TMC taking power in Bengal. However, as soon as they came to power, the very first step that TMC took was to deny the Gorkhas our one representative in the upper house of the Indian Parliament.

Instead of sending a Gorkhali as Rajya Sabha MP, TMC chose to nominate KD Singh – a businessman of questionable antecedents from Jharkhand to represent us in the Rajya Sabha.

This despite the fact that Mr. KD Singh is the owner of Alchemist group that was already under investigation for Chit-fund like financial scam in Jharkhand.

Tea Garden Woes 
The same Alchemist group owns three tea gardens in our hills – Dhotrey, Peshok and Kallej Valley. This group which is worth over 10,000 crores hasn’t paid the workers in these garden their wages, bonuses or facilities that they are supposed to get.

They literally pushed over 2200 workers and their dependent family members in these gardens towards starvation. You can read the plight of the workers here Yet the Bengal CM and KD Singh’s close friend did not even utter a word of reprimand. This is how much she cares for our people.

On April 13th, 2016 speaking at a public rally in Jalpaiguri, Mamata once again claimed that “no one has died of starvation or malnourishment in the tea gardens of Dooars during TMC rule.”

Nothing could be further from the truth as we all know. Over 1300 people have died due to starvation from 2011 to 2016 that TMC was in power, and many more are continuing to starve in the foothills of Darjeeling, Terai and Dooars.

Yet she had the galls to stand in Jalpaiguri which is surrounded by starving tea garden workers and claim that “there have been no starvation deaths.” It would be akin to Hitler going to a Gestapo concentration camp in Nazi Germany and claiming that no Jews have been murdered.

How sincere do you think TMC is in solving the issues surrounding tea garden workers, if they continue to deny that the tea garden workers are suffering to begin with?

Moreover, for centuries the tea garden workers have been treated like feudal slaves, with no right to even a small piece of land that they can claim as their own. The land rights in every state are vested with the state government, yet after coming to power Mamata hasn’t taken one single step to provide land rights for the tea garden workers, and she expects us to believe that she is the next best thing to have happened for the tea garden workers after the Brits introduced tea in our region.

Blood on Their Hands
The sufferings that our brothers and sisters working in the tea garden have to endure was made apparent, when despite repeated request for relocation of their village – Limbu Gaon following the 2011 earthquake, was ignored and denied. That earthquake had left a huge crater above the village and locals were worried that it could cause a landslide. All their please and requests landed on deaf ears of the Bengal government. Such was the gravity of the situation that on July 18, 2013 the Mirik Mirik BDO had written to his higher-ups, "As per field einquiry it is found fact that there is a huge landslide directly affected to the above said village... it is beyond the capacity of the establishment to protect the landslide affected area as desired by the villagers. YOU ARE HEREVY REQUESTED TO CONSIDER THE MATTER URGENTLY (sic)."  You can read the whole saga here with proof

The worse fears of Tingling residents came true on 1st of July almost two years after this fateful letter requesting action from the then Mirik BDO, when landslide swept away the entire Limbu Gaon leaving 19 people dead in its wake.

What happened was not a tragedy; it was MURDER IN COLD BLOOD.
Following the tragedy, the survivors were shifted to make-shift relief camps, and the Bengal government promised immediate relief and rehabilitation. However almost 2 years after the tragedy people from Tingling are still not provided with land where they could shift to, remember the Land Rights are still being held by the Bengal government.
Out of desperation residents in Tingling staged a shut down demanding swift action towards relocating them, but their demands have once again landed on deaf ears.

Unequal Even in Death 
More often than not we assume that no matter how rich or poor you are, death equals us all. Sadly for the Gorkhas, even in death we are unequal to rest of Bengal. When tragedy struck Darjeeling in the form of landslides and earlier earthquake, the Trinmool government announced a relief compensation of Rs 4 Lakhs per dead to the next of kin.

She even came to Mirik in person and handed over the cheques to the family of a few victims. But much like every other insincere action of Bengal government, even the cheques could not be cashed, as there was no money in the account from which the cheques had been issued [Details:] that is how much Mamata actually cared for the victims.

It is however ironic that the same AIGL that raised this issue today is happy supporting TMC in these upcoming elections.

Only two months from the fateful July landslides, another tragedy struck when a crane fell in Mecca Masjid in Saudi Arabia on Sept 2015, killing 107 people. Two Haj pilgrims who died that day were from West Bengal, and immediately Mamata announced a compensation of Rs 10 Lakh to the victim’s next of Kin.

I am not sure what makes the death of Gorkhas in the hills less worthy of compensation, than when someone died in Mecca? And this discrimination against the hill people was again made apparent, when tragedy struck in Kolkata recently and Mamata announced a compensation of Rs 5 Lakhs.

I wonder how long Bengal will continue to regard our people as less worthy even in death.

No Martyr’s Land

Bengal has always been very insensitive towards our brave-hearts. During the heights of Kargil war when all other state governments were going out of their way to provide help, assistance and support to the families of the Martyrs, no one from Bengal government had bothered to even show up to provide consolation to the families of the dearly departed.

Mamata has carried on with the same indifference towards our brave-hearts. Recently when the mortal remains of two Martyrs Hav. Bhawan Tamang and Rfn Sunil Rai were brought to Bagdogra, no one from the Government was present to receive the dead-bodies or pay homage to them.

In other states Chief Ministers go to visit the families of the Martyrs, and even the Prime Minister takes out his time to share the grief as well as extend support to the family, however even a puny SDO was not present on behalf of the Government to receive the dead body of our Martyrs. This level of apathy and indifference doesn’t arise from lack of interest, it arises from utter disrespect towards our land, our people and our community.

Linguistic Imperialism 
These are some of the most basic instances of discrimination that I have seen and faced personally, but nothing hurts me more than the utter lack of respect that Bengal government under TMC has shown towards our mother tongue Nepali. Despite repeated requests, West Bengal government did not see it fit to include Nepali as an optional subject in WBCS.

Our students are asked to speak and write in Bengali if they want job with the CSC and PSC. So much is the apathy hate towards our language that this is how West Bengal police wished us during Dasain...

And when one of us pointed it out, his family and friends were harassed with repeated calls to report to the police station. You can know more about linguistic discrimination meted out against Nepali language here:

As if the discrimination against our language is not enough, TMC has actively sought to divide the hill populace along ethnic lines. By forming community specific “development boards,” handing over anywhere from Rs 20 crores to Rs 5 crores on her whims and fancies to them, Mamata has proven that she has no intension what so ever of allowing the Gorkhas to remain autonomous and united.

I feel ashamed that our own people are behaving like hungry DOGS and lapping up a few crumbs that she is throwing on our way. These “development boards” are nothing but TMC-proxy in our hills and through it Mamata has managed to create a huge rift among our own people.

All of these may seem like small instances of oversight and realpolitik, but for me they are a rather elaborate web of wicked design that the TMC is weaving around us, and no thanks to “intellectuals” who have rushed in to support and seek support from TMC, their plans seem to be succeeding. We are allowing ourselves to be subjugated for our own selfish motives. What is happening in our region is nothing other than सौता को रिस ले लोग्ने को काख मुत्ने काम... Shameful and Self-destructive.

Unless we all send out our resounding verdict of NO MORE through our votes against the TMC and their Chela-chamundas, trust me that day is not far when we may continue to remain a Tamang, a Gurung, a Newar, a Kami, a Chettri, a Rai, a Chettri and so on, but will cease to exist as Gorkhas.

So please DO VOTE and make your VOTE COUNT... 

Vote for keeping the hopes and dreams of our ancestors and our future generations alive. Vote to let Bengal know that they cannot buy out all the Gorkhas. Vote to let the sellouts among us know that they will not dictate terms to all of us. Vote to show the nation that the Gorkhas are united and we will always and forever cherish our freedom and self-respect over Bengal’s dominance.

Vote Judiciously!! Vote for Gorkhaland!!

Election Commission slaps Mamata Banerjee with showcause notice

7:20 PM
The Election Commission Wednesday issued showcause notice to Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee for violating the model code of conduct, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi here said.

“The Commission has issued a showcause notice to her,” the CEC told at a press conference here.
“It was brought to our knowledge that she made the promise of creation of a new district of Asansol after which a detailed showcause notice was sent to her,” he said.
Election Commission slaps Mamata Banerjee with showcause notice
Election Commission slaps Mamata Banerjee with showcause notice
“She also made some other utterances which violated the model code of conduct,” he said.
“Upon receiving reply from Banerjee, the future course of action will be decided,” he said.
An unfazed Banerjee, however, dared the Commission and said, “Do whatever you like”.
“I heard that Election Commission has showcaused me. What I have said I will say it again, I will say it thousand times. I will say it a lakh times. Do whatever you like. If anyone spread canards against me I will seek answers,” she said during an election meeting in Birbhum district.

Mamata Banerjee, reacting to the notice, said that the people of Bengal will 'showcause' the Election Commission on May 19 for issuing a notice against her on Bengali New Year.

Via Indianexpress

4 Gorkha candidates vie for 3 reserved seats in Dooars

7:13 PM
Pramod Giri, HT, 14 Apr 2016, Kolkata: Vishal Lama, Usha Tamang, Padam Lama and Ganesh Lama may or may not win the Assembly elections. But they are the lucky ones to represent their community for the first time in the Dooars region of Alipurduar and Jalpaiguri districts where most seats are reserved for Scheduled Tribes.

Contesting from three seats these candidates represent the Gorkha community which has the second largest population after the Adivasis in tea producing belts of Dooars. Among the six seats n Dooars, five are reserved for STs while Alipurduar is a general constituency.

Mal, Nagrakata, Madarihat, Kalchini and Kumargram, all reserved Assembly seats for Scheduled Tribes, have always been sending MLAs belonging to the Adivasi community.

The inclusion of Tamang and Subbas belonging to Gorkha community in the Scheduled Tribes list in 2002 has changed the equation thus giving an opportunity to the Gorkha Scheduled Tribes to vie for MLA seats in the Dooars.

Dooars, known as the land of tea gardens and forests, has always lagged behind in terms of development while malnutrition deaths in the closed and abandoned tea gardens have become a regular occurrence.
Four Gorkha Scheduled Tribe candidates are contesting Assembly elections from the reserved seats of Kalchini, Madarihat and Nagrakata.

Vishal Lama and Usha Tamang are contesting as BJP and Independent candidates respectively from Kalchini. The Trinamool has fielded Padam Lama from Madarihat and Ganesh Lama is the All-India Gorkha League candidate from Nagrakata.

Mohan Sharma of the Trinamool, probably the best known political leader in entire Dooars, who is a Gorkha, said, “This is the first time Gorkhas are contesting the Assembly election in the Dooars.” Sharma, the sabhadhipati of Alipurduar zilla parishad, told HT, “Had Subbas and Tamangs not been accorded Scheduled Tribe status, hardly any Gorkha would have contested the Assembly election in the Dooars.”

Though reservation has largely helped to uplift the socio-economic conditions of the Adivasis, this has also come on the way of Sharma and Amarnath Jha of realising their dream of achieving higher political status. Sharma and Jha, both Brahmins and who were in the Congress for a long period before joining the Trinamool, are credited with grooming many junior Adivasi leaders who later became ministers, MPs and MLAs.

Via kalimpongnews

Harka Bahadur's confidence Vs GJM Organisational strength

8:42 AM
Harka confidence & Morcha might

Vivek Chheri and Rajeev Ravidas

Darjeeling, April 13: A slogan by the whistle blowing supporters of the Jan Andolan Party is rattling Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders in Kalimpong.

"Look here, look there, its Harka everywhere," shout the JAP cadres.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the JAP president who has been allotted the whistle symbol in the Kalimpong seat, says he is confident of creating a (political) jam for the Morcha through this election and has to some extent managed to get the momentum in his favour as the hills inch towards the D-day.

"The response is overwhelming. I am confident," said Chhetri, when asked about his chances of defeating the Morcha's Sarita Rai, who is his colleague at St George's Higher Secondary School in Pedong.

The Morcha, however, is confident that Chhetri's three-month old party is no match for its organisational strength.
JAP Harka Bahadur Chhetri and GJM Bimal Gurung.
JAP Harka Bahadur Chhetri and GJM Bimal Gurung.
"They (JAP) have direct and indirect support of seven development boards, Trinamul, GNLF, and even the ABGL and funds to ferry people from one rally to another. That doesn't mean that they have an edge. We have the organisational strength. We have 13 GTA Sabha members, 13 election committees and a party structure in place in every nook and corner of Kalimpong to cover 271 booths," said D.K. Pradhan, the chief convener of the Morcha's election cell.

Pradhan, a former Darjeeling MLA and a municipal chairman, has overseen almost every election, first with the GNLF and then with the Morcha, since 1988. "It has been a cent per cent success story so far and this election will be no different. We will win Darjeeling and Kurseong by a landslide margin," he said and then paused: "In Kalimpong, the margin will be good."

During the last Assembly election in 2011, when Harka had been fielded by the Morcha, it was actually Harka here, there and everywhere. Harka as the Morcha candidate in 2011 had polled an overwhelming 1,09,102 votes, while his nearest rival, Prakash Dahal of the GNLF, could only manage 7,427 votes in one of the most one-sided contests for an Assembly seat.

A veteran like Pradhan, however, knows that the battle will not be such a one-sided affair in Kalimpong.

The Morcha has the upper hand on Gorkhaland and it was handed a breathing space with the Centre announcing the formation of a committee to look into the demand of granting tribal status to 10 Gorkha communities that constitute more than 55 per cent of the hill population. Despite everything, Bimal Gurung appears to be finding it difficult to counter the JAP's campaign on the formation of Kalimpong district.

Chhetri had brought the issue to the fore while quitting the Morcha in mid-September last year and the state government obliged him by announcing its decision to form the district on December 18. But the Morcha, too, sought to take credit for the district creation, saying it was the first to raise the demand.

What has also been a definite letdown for the JAP is the announcement of Chhetri's name as the Trinamul Congress candidate in Kalimpong. It played right into the hands of the Morcha, which has accused Chhetri of being an agent of Bengal.

"With the candidate announcement, Trinamul did a definite disfavour to Chhetri. The JAP, however, has sought to recover from the blow by keeping a tactical distance from Trinamul. No JAP leader, including Chhetri, has campaigned for Trinamul candidates in Darjeeling and Kurseong even though the JAP has extended tacit support to the ruling party by not fielding candidates in both the seats," said an observer.

Actually, the core issues being raised by both the Morcha and the JAP are the same if one is to compare their manifestos. Statehood, tribal status, Kalimpong district, land rights, implementation of three-tier panchayati raj system and water action plan feature in the manifestos of both the outfits.

Whatever is the issue, Kalimpong relishes the rare political choices on offer.

Via Telegraph

Gorkha Janamukti Morcha to face stiff opposition in the hills

8:29 AM
Writes Drimi Chaudhuri

Darjeeling, Apr 14, 2016, For the first time since its formation in 2007, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) might be facing a road block due to the machinations of TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, in the Darjeeling Hills.

Months before the  Assembly elections, Mamata managed to break into the Morcha’s ranks and engineered the departure of Hadka Bahadur Chhetri, arguably the most articulate Gorkha leader. A doctor by profession, the soft-spoken man from Kalimpong won the Assembly seat in 2011 and emerged a popular face from within the Morcha leadership.  After he quit Morcha over “ideological differences”, Chhetri floated his own outfit, Jan Andolan Party (JAP) in November 2015 and posed a threat to Bimal Gurung's Morcha.

GJM Bimal Gurung to face JAP Harka Bahadur Chettri and  Mamata Banerjee alliance
GJM Bimal Gurung to face JAP Harka Bahadur Chettri and  Mamata Banerjee alliance
Things went a different way after Mamata drove a spike through the , announcing the state government's decision to set Kalimpong as a separate district. Soon, Chhetri aligned himself with the ruling Trinamool Congress and will be contesting in the second phase of the six-phase state polls on April 17 with support from Trinamool. If the enthusiasm of supporters at his rallies and public meetings are anything to go by, Chhetri will manage to upset Morcha's cart and retain his seat.
Chhetri has also brought about a change in Hill politics after almost three decades of agitation, which often turned violent and obstructive.

The sitting MLA from Kalimpong has refused to use the plank of the statehood movement for a separate Gorkhaland. "Gorkha political leaders have always used the issue of Gorkhaland as a poll plank, be it in the Panchayat elections or the parliamentary polls. I want to bring about change by maintaining amicable relation with the state government," he said.

Chhetri, who won the 2011 Assembly elections with nearly 1.3 lakh votes, hopes to repeat the feat and give a drubbing to his earlier party in the hustings.

 "I want to ensure actual development for Darjeeling and adjoining areas. My focus will be on getting steady water supply, set up schools and technical institutes, bring reliable healthcare facilities, things people need,” he said.

Chhetri believes that despite pressure from Morcha, he can turn things his way because he has the people's support .


We will end ‘goondaraaj’ of GJM says TMC Arup Biswas

6:15 PM
Darjeeling 11 Apr 2016 West Bengal Trinamool Congress general secretary Arup Biswas, who was in Darjeeling today, said his party would not only emerge victorious in the Assembly election, but also finish the ‘goondaraaj’ of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

The three-pronged alliance of the TMC-Gorkha National Liberation Front-Jan Andolan Party, or ‘jote’, tore into the GJM terming it a drowning boat that had outlived its days. Biswas reached Chowk Bazaar, the venue of the public meeting, some 30 minutes before the session ended and spoke for about 15 minutes. But he did not waste time and straight away began attacking the GJM and its leadership, accusing them of promoting atrocities and rampant corruption.

“GJM ab ek dooba huwa nauka hai. Bimal Gurung aur uska party ka goondagardi ab nahin chalne denge hum. Gurung ko election ke baad pahar chodna padega kyuki uska samay pura hogiya hai,” roared Biswas to the applause of TMC-GNLF-JAP supporters.
West Bengal Trinamool Congress general secretary Arup Biswas
The TMC believes it has at last established a toe-hold in the hills with the GNLF and the JAP supporting it and the All India Gorkha League asking party workers to vote “consciously” for any party other than the GJM.

Biswas said this election would not be a cakewalk for the GJM as the Trinamool and its allies were well prepared. “In the past, the GJM used to capture the booths by terrorising voters and cadres of other parties. But this time, we (TMC-GNLF-JAP) will deploy cadres in every booth. It is my ‘sapath’ (promise) that we will finish the GJM in the hills,” the TMC general secretary said.

GNLF leader Niraj Zimba evoked the deaths of hundreds of people during the two rounds of agitation for statehood (1986 and 2007) to corner the GJM, accusing it of tacitly supporting the CPM in this election. “In the first agitation more than 1,200 people were killed and 2007 saw another five deaths. The CPM was in power then. Now the GJM is supporting that party and it is also supporting the BJP whose leaders in the plains of Bengal are against Gorkhaland. How can people believe this (GJM) party?” he wondered.

Meanwhile, hill TMC leaders, wary of the sentiments attached with to statehood demand and the party’s stand on the matter, treaded a cautious path focusing more on development. “The TMC will come to power in Bengal again and its legislators will be able to fulfill the demand of the hills. That’s why we must be practical and not indulge in sentimental politics,” advised NB Khawas, the hill TMC general secretary.

And hill TMC president Rajen Mukhia tried to underscore a new perspective being followed by his party, insisting party chief Mamata Banerjee did not believe in ethnic politics. He said, “Baichung

Bhutia has been fielded in Siliguri and another Gorkha candidate in the Dooars even though these areas have Bengali population in the majority. This shows our leader’s broadmindedness and her love for the hills.”

However, Saradha Subba, the TMC candidate from Darjeeling, was blunt saying a Gorkha state would never be a reality. “Gorkhaland will not be created; moreover, the GJM will never be able to achieve it. There are other issues that need to be addressed urgently and you must give a chance to a national-level party like the TMC for overall progress and development,” she said.

The TMC has fielded candidates in Darjeeling, Kurseong and Siliguri and will be supporting JAP candidate Harka Bahadur Chhetri in Kalimpong.

Via (EOIC)

Siliguri Terai Gorkha Vikash Manch Extends Support to Trinmool

11:09 AM
In yet another show of solidarity with the Trinmool, the recently formed STGVM which was formed by dissidents from GJM has extended their support to TMC.
Attending the TMC rally in Siliguri, the STGVM delegation led by Mr. Sanam Giri, Samvhu Rai, Uttam Gurung and Ram Chettri yesterday said that "we have placed our demands to the Chief Minister and she has assured us of considering those demands, she has also assured us that she will develop all the Development Boards so we are extending our support to Trinmool and we will vote for TMC."
It might be recalled that Mamata formed a Terai-Dooars Gorkha Development Board on March 17th, 2016 and has allocated Rs 5 Crore to them.
Siliguri Terai Gorkha Vikash Manch Extends Support to Trinmool

Via TheDC

Trinamul, GNLF and JAP tie-up in the hills against GJM

10:09 AM
TMC's hill jot to beat Morcha

Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, April 11: The tie-up with the Jan Andolan Party and the GNLF seems to have given Trinamul enough confidence to take on the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills.

The first joint meeting convened by Trinamul, GNLF and the JAP drew an impressive crowd at Sumeru Manch in Darjeeling's Chowk Bazar today. A comparable opposition crowd had last gathered at Chowk Bazar when GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh had addressed a public meeting in 2011.

Aroop Biswas, who is in charge of Trinamul in the hills, probably impressed by the turnout, said: "We will win all three seats, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong."

In Kalimpong, Trinamul is supporting JAP president Harka Bahadur Chhetri. In the other two seats, Trinamul has put up its own candidates.
Trinamul, GNLF and JAP tie-up in the hills against GJM
Img via Darpan
Asked if Trinamul supported the statehood demand given that the JAP's election manifesto listed Gorkhaland, Biswas merely said: "We have all come together to usher in development and end an autocratic rule in the hills."

The Trinamul leader, who was the last speaker, stressed the importance of the alliance. "We will have people in each and every booth. We, along with our GNLF and JAP friends, will ensure that there is no loot of even a single vote (no false vote)," said Biswas.

He lashed out at the Morcha and the BJP for "talking big" during elections and trying to influence polls with money power.

The supporters of the hill jot brought out a rally from near the railway station that meandered through town to reach the meeting venue.

Bhaichung Bhutia, a former captain of the Indian football team and Trinamul candidate of Siliguri, also addressed the crowd.

"The only issue that the Morcha raises during an election is Gorkhaland. I, however, want to ask both the BJP and the Morcha why Narendra Modi did not talk on the issue in his speech at a public meeting in Siliguri recently," said Bhutia.

Neeraj Zimba, GNLF leader, lambasted the Morcha for playing with the sentiments of the hill people. "The people were not tired with the (statehood) agitation but the leaders got tired. They had received 100 per cent support from the people and no agitation in the world has received such support," said Zimba.

Rajen Mukhia, president, Trinamul (Hills), said one of the winning Trinamul candidates in the hills would be given a ministerial berth.

Hill development boards to support the Trinamul Congress in Assembly polls

8:27 AM
Darjeeling, April 8: The chairmen of six development boards of different communities in the hills today said they wanted members of their communities to support the Trinamul Congress in Assembly polls as a token of gratitude for the formation of the bodies.

The heads of six development boards formed by the Mamata Banerjee government were present at the first-of-its-kind meeting at the Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan Hall today. The meeting was addressed by the chairmen of Tamang, Sherpa, Bhutia, Mangar, Limbu and Rai development boards.

The chairman of the Lepcha development board, however, was absent from the meeting "as the representatives of the community were busy with preparations for their own meeting".

Sanjay Moktan, the chairman of the Tamang Development and Cultural Board, said: "The state government has helped us in our development and we have, therefore, decided to help that political party."

Asked if that political party was the Trinamul Congress, Moktan said: "Obviously. If the leadership of that party is supporting us, we, too, need to back them. However, we cannot tell all our community members to vote for a particular party. We believe that it is our responsibility to support that party which is helping us."
The chairmen of the 7 hill development boards at the meeting.Picture by Suman Tamang
The chairmen of the 7 hill development boards at the meeting.Picture by Suman Tamang
The seven communities, including the Sherpas, for which the boards have been formed, make up more than 35 percent of the hill population.

Observers, however, believe every member of a particular community is not expected to follow the chairman's line of thought. "Moreover, there are also rival organisations within the communities which are not too enthused about the development boards," said an observer.

Moktan said the meeting had also been called to end the "oppression" being perpetuated by a political party. "The meeting has also been called to seek freedom from the oppression that is being perpetuated by a political party. We believe the party is not allowing us to develop our language and culture."

Although Moktan did not take the name of the political party, it was clear that he was referring to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.

Asked about the oppression, Moktan said: "When a member of the Tamang community was killed in broad daylight here, we could not even protest."

The killing was in reference to the murder of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League leader, Madan Tamang, in May, 2010.

Palden Bhutia, the chairman of the Bhutia Development Board, said: "All we want to say is that we need to feed the cow that provides milk to us."

Bhutia said the meeting had been organised not by the development boards but by organisations representing the six communities.

Nima Wangdi Sherpa, the chairman of the West Bengal Sherpa Development Board, said: "Apart from the chairmen of the six development boards, representatives of the Darjeeling Indigenous Schedule Caste Welfare Association and the Bhujel community were also present. The two communities are demanding development boards and we would extend support to them."

With regard to the absence of the chairman of the Lepcha development board, Sherpa said: "As the representatives of the community were busy with preparations for their own meeting, they could not attend today's meeting."


Hill Development boards meeting on Assembly election in Darjeeling

7:57 PM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, April 6: The heads of seven development boards formed for different communities in the Darjeeling hills have decided to hold a meeting here on Friday to discuss the stand they will take on the coming Assembly election.

Although the chairman of West Bengal Sherpa Cultural Board said the meeting would discuss "issues related to the upcoming election", sources said the purpose of the talks was to decide whether the heads of the boards should support any party in the polls and if so, how they should send the message to the members of the communities.

The development boards' formation by the Mamata Banerjee government has given a toehold to the Trinamul Congress in the hills, where the writ of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha largely runs.

The meeting is considered significant as this is the first time that the chairmen of the boards are formally sitting together to discuss an election strategy.
Hill Development boards meeting on Assembly election in Darjeeling
Lyangsong Tamsang, the chairman of the Mayel Lyang Lepcha Development Board,
after receiving a cheque for Rs 10 crore from Mamata Banerjee at
Ronaldshay Park in Kalimpong
Nima Wangdi Sherpa, the chairman of the Sherpa cultural board today told The Telegraph: "It is true that a meeting of the chairpersons of seven boards will be held at the Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan Hall in Darjeeling on April 8. The agenda is basically to discuss issues related to the upcoming election."

He, however, refused to get into the details of the meeting's agenda.

Sources said the chairmen of the development boards would be discussing the stand they would take in the polls. "If they decide to support any party, then, they will have to find a way to present it before the members of their respective communities. Those things will also be decided at the meeting," said an aide to the chairman of one of the boards.

The state government has so far formed boards for Lepcha, Tamang, Sherpa, Bhutia, Mangar, Rai and Limbu communities which make up 35 per cent of the hill population.

"Apart from the chairpersons, leaders of other communities like Scheduled Caste, Bhujel and probably Newars, which are also demanding development boards, are likely to attend the meeting," said Sherpa.

Asked about the likely outcome of the talks, Sherpa said: "We cannot say anything at the moment."

Observers believe the board chairmen will most probably decide on supporting the Trinamul candidates in the hills. "It is obvious that they will decide to support the Trinamul candidates because they were given positions by the state government. Most of the board chairmen were present at Mamata Banerjee's election rally in Kurseong on March 15," said an observer.

"However, the most interesting thing would be how they appeal to community members to support Trinamul. Will it be a direct appeal or will they send across a subtle message to voters," said the observer.

The observers believe the chairmen of the boards are under pressure. "Mamata Banerjee has nominated them to the posts with a belief that they wield a lot of clout among their respective communities. So, these leaders are obviously under pressure to deliver," said an observer.

Morcha president and GTA chief executive Bimal Gurung has always said the boards were created to divide the hill population. Realising the importance of the development boards in the upcoming election, he had met leaders of different communities over the past few weeks.

"Gurung has held meetings with leaders of Sherpa, Limbu, Rai and Christian communities throughout March at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling. Gurung is confident that development board leaders cannot influence a lot of voters ," said a close aide to Gurung.

The GTA had announced in February that development boards for 19 hill communities would be established with an allocation of Rs 5 crore each.


Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) withdrew support to TMC

7:42 PM
Darjeeling 5 Apr 2016 The Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League today withdrew its support to the two Trinamool candidates from Kurseong and Darjeeling asserting the party would first hold an internal meeting and decide on the matter in the near future. However, the party has not changed its decision of supporting Jan Andolan Party candidate Harka Bahadur Chhetri in Kalimpong.

Today’s statement is in sharp contrast to what transpired on Monday when a hill TMC delegation led by Darjeeling candidate Sarada Subba and general secretary NB Khawas met ABGL president Bharati Tamang. Tamang had announced before the media that the ABGL would support the TMC as the party wanted a change in the political establishment in the hills.

Speaking today at a press conference at the ABGL party office, Tamang said, “What I said yesterday regarding support to the TMC was entirely my personal decision and I believe this was misunderstood by the media. The final take on who the ABGL will support in Kurseong and Darjeeling will be decided only after we hold a party meeting either on April 8 or 9.”
Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League withdrew support to TMC
Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League Bharati Tamang
ABGL sources said Tamang may have been forced to retract her statement following pressure from senior party leaders as some of them are in favour of extending support to the candidates fielded by the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM).

Asked for his comment, hill TMC general secretary NB Khawas said, “We met the ABGL president in her house yesterday seeking her party’s support for our candidates from Kurseong and Darjeeling and she was positive in her response. As for the sudden change in her stand, we would not like to say anything as it is for the ABGL to decide on the matter.”


Hailstorm, Malgovernance, and Indifferent State – How Safe Are We?

9:38 AM
Writes Shailendra M Pradhan for TheDC

March 31st, 2016, will go down in the collective memory for two, or possibly three, reasons: hailstorm in Darjeeling, the tragedy in Kolkata caused by the collapse of under-construction bridge, and, of not lesser interest to a cricketing nation like ours, the defeat of India in T20 World Cup to Windies, despite Virat’s heroics. Of the previous two, the tragedy in Kolkata claimed more than 30 lives, while many were fear trapped under the rubble of under-construction overpass for hours and, even, days.

The hailstorm in Darjeeling, however, evoked two contradictory responses. First, it came and was received as a pleasant surprise by both the locals and tourists who, denied of the snow in the winters since 2008, were quick to relish in the blanket of almost 6-7 inches of hailstorm. Second, given the timing of the hailstorm, many, especially the farmers and agriculturists in rural Darjeeling, and the planters in tea gardens, feared a loss to their output and productivity, which, as a matter of investigation, deserve more time and research. In both the cases of hailstorm and bridge collapse, the failure of the administration to respond and rescue the people has, however, become more apparent.
Hailstorm, Malgovernance, and Indifferent State – How Safe Are We?
Perhaps, in case of the tragedy in Kolkata, April Fool’s Day came a day before to the state administration, and much before the assembly elections to the Trinamul Congress-govt which has come under scathing criticisms from the opposition, but more importantly, from the people because of its decisions to push through the completion of the bridge in a haphazard manner, much ahead of its scheduled deadline in November this year. Whether or not the tragedy will involve any political cost for the ruling dispensation under TMC is best left to scrutiny once the election results are out.

For now, it would be pertinent to introspect on the administrative response to the plight and hardship of the people caused in the wake of hailstorm.

Disasters and Administration in Darjeeling: An Uneasy Relationship?

Darjeeling, famous for its 3 Ts – tea, tourism, and toy-train, is also equally notorious for its disasters. The landslides in Mirik and Kalimpong in July last year resulted in the death of more than 40 lives. Similarly, the cyclone Aila in 2009 created havoc in different pockets of Darjeeling hills, and disrupted normal life for days together. Given its location in Lesser Himalaya, Darjeeling is prone to landslides, earthquakes, and various other natural hazards. The response of the govt. to these disasters has, however, remained disappointing, and of little help and assistance to the people.

The hailstorm in Darjeeling only deepened our fear of insensible and ill-prepared administration when it was caught completely off-guard to deal with such emergencies. While the thunder-shower and hailstorm lasted for a little more than half an hour, the immediate hardship experienced by the people will remain with them for times to come – the traffic was thrown out of gear for large part of the day; the people, travelling to and from Darjeeling, could not reach their destination on time; and, the students made home – with a starving stomach with nothing to eat for hours – from their schools very late in the night due to unmoving traffic. In the absence of Civil Defence personnel, who are mostly responsible for rescue and relief operations in any hazard situations, the people themselves had to negotiate and make their way through layers and layers of hailstorm.

In fact, the inability of both the district administration and Darjeeling Municipality to deploy even the basic snow-removal equipments and tools such as snowplow, wovel, and blower to clear off the roads highlight the insensitivity of the govt. to the plights of the people in disaster-situations. Unsurprisingly, the people took on themselves to help each other from lending a hand to push the vehicles trapped in hail-covered road to offering teas and biscuits to the starving travelers by the locals. And, while the tourists and locals displayed strong camaraderie in this hour of hardship, the administration remained ignorant of its own shortcomings.

Smart-Phones – But Not-So-Smart Administration!

Better communications can warn the people of the impending disasters, and help them to better prepare and mitigate during their occurrences. The timely evacuation of millions of people in the face of approaching Phailin, known to be the fiercest cyclone to hit coastal Andhra and Odisha in recent times, is perhaps the most glaring example of how information and communication can help avert any major disaster. The boom in the Information and Technology industry (IT, hereafter), and the promptness at which the information can be collected and made available at the touch of one’s phone-screen can improve our preparedness level in disaster mitigation. One of the biggest failures of the successive govts in West Bengal has been its inability to fine-tune its administration and personnel to the prospects available in IT sector – in other words, the coming of smart-phones in the markets in Bengal has not been accompanied by equally smart and technology-oriented local administration. As a result, the people remain deprived of the information on weather-forecasts and impending risks, which if timely relayed as text-messages or calls, can save them from many hardships.

The inability of the state disaster management authority, which is replete with time-consuming bureaucratic process and corruption, and district administration to communicate and warn the people of the impending disasters pierce the very idea of smart-cities which are disaster and risk resilient. In case of hailstorm in Darjeeling, the district administration not only failed to make use of the information available with the metrological department for its own preparedness, but also showed laxity in relaying them to the people. It is a sad fact that the district administration has not been able to capitalize on the smart-phones available with the people in Darjeeling, let alone set-up and strengthen its communication technologies for early-warning of any disaster or weather-related information.

Safety and Social Responsibility: The Missing Link?

When the news of hailstorm in Darjeeling made to social network sites such as Facebook on TheDC, Darjeeling Times, and other local news pages, the people were busy “liking”, responding, or sharing their feelings on possibly every news and photographs related to the event. To the tourists in the town, but also to the locals, Darjeeling, had, perhaps lived up to its expectation as the indisputable “Queen of Hill Stations” in India. Of the many stories on hailstorm that made it to national newspapers and online news portals the following morning, one small bit related to the damages in one of the most prestigious schools in Darjeeling, the Loreto Convent – the roof of its basketball court had apparently collapsed. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The incident, however, puts a big question mark on the safety and reliability of our infrastructures in various schools and institutions: how safe are our infrastructures to withstand hazards like earthquakes and hailstorms? Do we have enough regulatory institutions to ensure that safety-norms and laws are abided and observed? Are we sensitive to our environment and our safety?

Darjeeling can, perhaps, take pride in being the oldest municipality in India, built way back in 1853, with British concerned about the nitty-gritty of building a safe and habitable place on the lines of its own towns in London: building bye-laws, adequate drainage system, and strong road and railway lines. Most of these have either been modified or replaced by new laws and norms, and infrastructures that are apparently better suited to deal with various challenges of our times such as population growth and urbanisation. The safety and the well-being of the people, however, have been compromised in the process, and Darjeeling, as it is today, remains one of the most neglected and vulnerable hill towns in India.

In our collective capacity, we should remind ourselves of the disasters that are in making, largely because of our own insensitivity to the environment and nature – the dumping of our waste almost anywhere and everywhere, building of our houses and other infrastructures almost anywhere and everywhere, even in the most vulnerable and hazard-prone areas, and little or no concern for public property and goods.

The recent hailstorm, despite being largely harmless, should serve as a warning to our representatives, policy-makers, builders, and, above all, to ourselves on the need to introspect on the pace and pattern of our development.

Via TheDC

Mamata Banerjee's meeting next to CBSE exam centre in Kurseong

9:38 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, March 14: Mamata Banerjee is scheduled to address a public meeting tomorrow at Monteviot Ground in Kurseong, less than 100m away from a school where students would be taking their Class X board exams.

Although the meeting near Godwin Modern School is being described as an "indoor" event, till late this afternoon, the space between the main dais and the sitting area for Trinamul supporters was not covered.

A pandal has been erected on the remaining space with a cloth covering on top, which is unlikely to block any noise.

According to the environment department rules, there is a blanket ban on outdoor use of loudspeakers starting from three days before the commencement of any board examination till its end.

Godwin Modern School is an exam centre where 26 CBSE students from different schools outside Kurseong would write their Class X English Communicative paper from 10.30am to 1.30pm tomorrow.
The main dais (left) under construction at Monteviot Ground in Kurseong and a pandal (right) being erected for
Trinamul supporters. The blue building behind the stage is Godwin Modern School. Picture by Suman Tamang
Apart from test, the school that has 110 students studying from Pre-nursery to Class XII holds regular classes from 8am till 2.30pm.

Trinamul leaders said the public meeting was scheduled to start after 1.30pm. "It is an indoor meeting and it will start after 1.30pm and end around 4.30pm tomorrow," said Rajen Mukhia, president, Trinamul (Hills). He added that they had sought permission for the meeting as an indoor event.

Bipul Kumar Biswas, the subdivisional officer of Kurseong, who issued the permit for the event as the assistant returning officer, refused to comment today.

The authorities of Godwin Modern School refused to be drawn into any controversy.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has objected to the meeting saying the examinees in the school building will be sitting closer to Mamata than her supporters who would come to listen to her.

"Compare the distance between the dais and the school and between the dais and the last man standing inside their so-called pandal. We are surprised. How was permission granted to organise the meeting when the board exams are being held? We have lodged a complaint with the state's chief electoral officer (complaint number 126030240002619)," said Yogendra Rai, president, Morcha town committee (Kurseong) who is also an elected GTA Sabha member.

The complaint naming Mukhia was lodged today.

"Imagine the amount of noise that would be generated even before 1.30pm. There are a number of residential buildings in the area and apart from CBSE, ICSE and ISC examinations are also on. Other schools near the venue are Dawn Boarding and Little Flower schools. But the closest is Godwin Modern School," Rai said. "We have requested the assistant returning officer to cancel the permit. If this is the situation under which TMC is being allowed to hold a public meeting then all other political parties should be given permission for the same."

Asked about the complaint, Anurag Srivastava, the district returning officer and Darjeeling district magistrate, said: "I have learnt from the SDO, Kurseong, who had issued the permission that the meeting is in a covered pandal, which is treated as an indoor place. Restriction by the pollution control board on mike use is not applicable to indoor places. The condition of granting permission is that sound should not emanate from the pandal and students should not be disturbed."


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