TMC supporter who had called Jai Shree Ram a ‘call of terror’ now calls Gorkhas ‘infiltrators’ on national TV
Gangtok: Former Indian soccer star Bhaichung Bhutia has broken his silence on his resignation from Trinamul last month, accusing a section of party leaders of treating him like an "outsider" while signalling a political career in home state Sikkim.
"Since I was an outsider (in Bengal), I was opposed not just by the public but even by people in my own party," Bhaichung told The Telegraph on Wednesday, weeks after he had announced his resignation through a tweet.
Trinamul leaders declined comment but sources in the party claimed Bhaichung was trying to cosy up to the BJP to start his innings in Sikkim, where he is now on a Yuva Yatra (youth march) with some friends "to understand the ground reality".
"All that we get to hear is not reflected on the ground. There are good and bad things happening. We want to see the place, meet people and know the reality," Bhaichung said. Bhaichung said he would take a call on formally joining Sikkim politics before Assembly elections that would coincide with Lok Sabha polls next year. But options are limited for Bhaichung in his home state, where the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front is a member of the North-East Democratic Alliance, formed as a part of the BJP's "Congress-Mukt Northeast".
"People like Bhaichung, who make lateral entry into politics, normally join the ruling party... It is sad that he is complaining about Trinamul. The party gave him a lot of respect," said a Trinamul leader.
Trinamul nominated Bhaichung from the Darjeeling parliamentary seat in 2014 but he lost to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha-backed BJP candidate S.S. Ahluwalia. Mamata Banerjee fielded him against CPM veteran Asok Bhattacharya in Siliguri in the 2016 Assembly polls, but he lost. Later, In June 2016, Bhaichung was made chairman of the North Bengal Board for Development of Sports.
"Bhaichung, was not very visible in Siliguri since the end of 2016. Finally, in February this year, he walked out of the party," said a Trinamul source.
On Wednesday, Bhaichung said "the lessons he learnt in Bengal" would hold him in good stead. Unlike in Bengal, where he was "thrown down from the top", he said he would work his way up from the bottom in his home state.
Party sees chance after SC blow to Bimal
Vivek Chhetri (Telegraph)
Darjeeling: Trinamul has decided to renew political activities in the hills following a directive from the leadership which believes normality has returned to the region.
The immediate reason is last week's Supreme Court judgment which rejected charges of bias in the probes against Bimal Gurung, cornering the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader further while he remains in hiding.
Shubhamoy Chatterjee, working president of Trinamul (hills), said on Monday: "Given the (turbulent) situation in the hills (earlier), we had been directed by the party leadership to remain inactive. We have now received directions from Calcutta to renew political activities in the hills afresh."
Trinamul had suffered as most of its supporters and many leaders resigned during the statehood agitation last year, preferring to lie low for 10 months.
The TMC leadership has, however, repeatedly stressed that it is not looking to expand its base at the cost of the hill-based Morcha or the Gorkha National Liberation Front
Trinamul invokes Hindi to score a point - Ruling party counters Morcha decision to allow billboards only in Nepali and English
Writes: Vivek Chettri
Darjeeling, June 11: The Trinamul Congress has decided to counter the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's decision to allow billboards only in English and Nepali in the hills and ignore Hindi.
"We have decided to take on the Morcha's decision not to allow billboards in Hindi too. Hindi is our national language and as the nation comes first, we will take this issue with the Prime Minister," said Binny Sharma, Trinamul's spokesperson in the hills.
Sources in Trinamul said the decision to rake up the Hindi issue was an attempt to not only counter the Morcha but also its ally, the BJP.
"The Morcha is an ally of the BJP but by raising an issue close to its electoral constituency, the Trinamul Congress is trying to corner the Morcha and put the BJP on the backfoot in the rest of Bengal," said a political observer
The Morcha's announcement, the sources said, was to counter Mamata Banerjee's alleged decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools despite the chief minister's assurance that the language would be made optional in the hills.
The government decision had given the Morcha an opportunity to revive the Gorkhaland demand, observers said.
Sharma said: "We know that the Morcha is a junior partner of the NDA but we also want to know from the BJP leadership on the stand over the Morcha's decision not to allow Hindi billboards in the region. We believe this is a threat to the Hindi-speaking people of the region. We will take up this issue at the highest level."
Asked about the alleged decision to make Bengali compulsory at schools, Sharma said: "The Morcha just speaks lies. The chief minister has clarified and moreover, there is no government order on Bengali being made compulsory in the hills."
Trinamul insiders in Siliguri today said the state leadership had instructed the hill unit to act in a "sublime and effective manner", unlike the state administration that was all set to act firmly against the Morcha from tomorrow.
"We have been specifically instructed to abstain from any move that can create an opportunity for the Morcha to perpetrate violence," said a Trinamul leader.
Pic: Screen Shot of tweet from Republic
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today asked the residents of Mirik to switch off lights for two hours tomorrow evening when Mamata Banerjee will attend a government programme there.
The Morcha also appealed to students and people to wear black badges during the chief minister's tour of the hills as part of an intensified agitation against the state government's decision to make Bengali learning compulsory at schools.
Binay Tamang, the assistant secretary of the Morcha, said: "We call upon people to switch off lights for two hours from 6pm tomorrow to protest against the imposition of Bengali language on the hill people. We will think that those who don't switch off lights are against Gorkhaland and our language."
The chief minister is slated to attend a government programme at Mirik from 5pm tomorrow.
Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said the blackout would be restricted to Mirik.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung, along with senior leaders, took part in a march from Ghoom railway station to Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling, a distance of about 8km, today to protest against the language issue.
Mamata will be in Darjeeling for four days from Tuesday. The state cabinet is scheduled to meet in Darjeeling on Thursday.
The Morcha has lined up marches across the hills during the chief minister's tour of the region.
"We request students from Class V onwards to wear black badges at schools till June 9. We also appeal to general public to move around with black badges," said Giri.
Amit P. Javalgi, the superintendent of police, Darjeeling, said permission would be denied to the Morcha to take out processions in Darjeeling and Kurseong on June 6, 7 and 8 "since there will be the movement of a lot of ministers for a government event".
"They could hold processions at other places," added Javalgi.
The police chief said: "We had given permission to hold rallies today. We are giving them (Morcha) permission to organise marches tomorrow (even in Mirik) on condition that they should be peaceful and democratic and should not disturb any government programmes."
Giri said the marches would be peaceful and the Morcha would seek permission for the same in Darjeeling and Kurseong on June 6, 7 and 8.
He asked people to attend a rally from Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan to Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling on June 6 in traditional attire. Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan is about 1km from Richmond Hill where Mamata would be staying during her visit.
In Siliguri, BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijavargiya said the state government should have held talks with those who had reservation about the language decision.
"Instead, the state decided to impose a language on the hill people which led to the agitation. Their sentiments have been hurt. The state has made an undesirable move in a democratic system," he said.
Minister Gautam Deb today said in Siliguri: "People are not supporting the Morcha's agitation. Trinamul supporters are relentlessly working to build opinion against the movement. Bimal Gurung is fast losing his support base in the hills and is trying to retain it by duping people."
He said Mamata would reach Bagdogra tomorrow and head for Mirik.(TT)
Hill TMC says no to compulsory Bengali: To speak to Mamata Banerjee in Mirik
With the opposition to implementing Bengali being spearheaded by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha gaining momentum, the TMC (hills) yesterday said it had spoken to party high commands in Kolkata to not make it mandatory in the hill schools.
The hill TMC leaders finding themselves in an awkward situation given the sentiments attached with the issue organized a public meeting in Darjeeling town today to clear the air. ““Yesterday, I spoke with Partha Chatterjee, the state education minister to know more about the issue and also apprise him about our stand. I told him that the state government should allow the present system under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to continue. Bengali as an option is okay but we will not accept if it is made compulsory,” asserted Rajen Mukhia, the hill TMC president, today.
The local TMC leaders did not find anything amiss to have Bengali as an optional language in the hill schools saying it was important to learn new languages. “We (TMC hill leaders) are also sons of the soil and Gorkhas. Knowing Bengali will stand us in good stead as the language is most spoken in the plains where we often visit. However, we too will not accept if Bengali is made compulsory on us,” reiterated Mukhia.
Schools and colleges remained closed today in the hills. The GJM has asked educational institutions to close for two days on June 1 and 2, in protest against the alleged imposition of Bengali in the region’s schools.
Mukhia though alleged GJM was politicizing the issue by spreading false rumours. “GJM is playing with the sentiments of the people for political gains. No government orders or circulars have been issued so far. I want to tell the heads of schools here that the rumours are false. We will take up the matter with chief minister Mamata Banerjee when she visits Mirik on June 5,” the hill TMC president said.
When asked to comment on the GJM rallies from June 4 to 8 during the Bengal CM’s visit to the region, the hill TMC president said, “We have come to know that they (GJM) will show black flags to the chief minister. We want to say here that she (Banerjee) besides being the state’s CM is also our leader. If she is shown black flags than we too will reciprocate it on their party president (Bimal Gurung ) during his programs,” Mukhia retorted.
Mirik, May 29: From today, Mirik will be Trinamul's new signpost in the Darjeeling hills.
The party is expected to announce and implement a slew of schemes for the hill town and showcase Mirik before the hill people as the example of Mamata Banerjee's development agenda.
"So far, Bengal ministers and Trinamul leaders have highlighted the projects taken up by the state government in the hills. But from now onwards, the new civic board will implement projects in Mirik. The entire Mirik subdivision will witness comprehensive development. It is because of the mandate of Mirik residents that our party is tasting power in the hills," a Trinamul leader here said today, soon after the party's L.B. Rai was sworn in as the Mirik chairman.
He said Mirik would provide Trinamul with a launch-pad to penetrate the rest of the hills, especially before the coming polls to the GTA Sabha.
The Morcha will be under pressure to perform at the three other civic bodies in the hills. Morcha president Bimal Gurung had said after the civic poll results that people had given them "one last chance".
If the civic body in Mirik can establish that it is performing better than the three other boards, there will be more trouble for the Morcha.
Trinamul leader and minister Aroop Biswas affirmed that Rai and his colleagues would have a tough task at hand. "People here have huge expectations from Trinamul councillors and our party. It is obvious that they will have to perform and prove that the peoples' mandate was right. We will constantly monitor the civic body's functioning and extend all necessary help to them," Biswas said.
The hill town today wore a look of celebrations, with the flags of Trinamul and GNLF fluttering across Mirik. The six Trinamul councillors were taken to the municipality building in a bike rally organised by the party supporters.
Some of the councillors were riding pillion.
After the chairman and the vice-chairman were sworn in, the Trinamul supporters took out a procession in which the councillors and minister Biswas took part.
The march ended near Sumendu lake.
The three Morcha councillors left soon after they had taken oath and didn't wait to attend the first board meeting.
[via: Telegraph ]
The strike in Darjeeling, held two days ago has been termed ‘a success’ by GJM, while TMC has called it an ‘absolute failure.’ What is funny is that almost all the Bengal based news media, other than the ones based in North Bengal, have toed the official line and reported that the strike was ‘unsuccessful.’ Surprised readers who were in Darjeeling watching the events unfold on the ground, were shocked to note how Bengali news channels were saying the vehicles are running smoothly, shops are open and life is going on as normal. A few of them even wrote to us, complaining about how Bengali channels were distorting the facts.
To be honest we have seen all of this happen over and over again. From 1986 to 2016, newspapers and media in Bengal have always been biased against the Gorkhaland issue. This is why TheDC was formed in November of 2013 to provide factual news from the hills, without any embellishments, addendums or modifications. Because we had come to realize that what is happening on the ground in Darjeeling, is not getting reported in the media, where as modified news, often misleading were being peddled as the truth.
Here is an example, “WILL GUNS BOOM IN BENGAL'S HILLS?” reads the headline from Aug 2013 when the Gorkhaland agitation was at its peak , in Times of India [Details: http://bit.ly/1qNAMAa]. If you read the article, you will see how they paint a picture of Darjeeling almost getting ready for an Armageddon, without any substance to prove their assertions, or use of named sources, they paint a picture of armed revolution about to unfold in Darjeeling hills. While most of the people in Darjeeling may scoff at the reporting, those from elsewhere in India who are unaware of the ground realities will naturally assume it’s the truth. This is how media in Bengal has manipulated the Gorkhaland agitation to paint a picture of our demand being that of ‘separatism from India, being funded by Nepal, Pakistan and China’ [Details: http://bit.ly/2cPcTKY].
So TMC claimed the strike was not successful on the 28th, and yesterday they took out a ‘Thank You’ rally to thank the people in the hills for opposing the ‘bandh.’ While hill people may have found it delusional, it serves a purpose. These rallies and events are not meant to thank the hill people, they are done to let Mamata and rest of Bengal know, whatever was reported in Kolkata based media on the 28th was true, and that the strikes were indeed unsuccessful.
But even the TMC leaders know in the hearts of their hearts that the hill people overwhelmingly supported the strike, and contrary to popular belief that it was done out of fear of the GJM, I believe it was done to let Mamata and Bengal know their diktats were not welcome in the hills.
In an unprecedented move, the Bengal government went all out to thwart the proposed strike. They imposed draconian diktats - like circulars were issued requiring every government servant to attend their office, failing which they will be show caused and anyone missing work due to strike would have 3 days pay cut. They required schools and colleges to remain open, threatened business, restaurants, hotels and taxis of cancellation of licenses and permits. In Mungpoo, TMC cadres did extensive miking telling the cinchona workers that if they don’t show up for work, they may lose their jobs in the near future. Such threats were issued all over the Darjeeling hills.
As if that was not enough, numerous platoons of Central Reserve forces and state police were brought down to ensure ‘law and order’ in the hills, and to top it all Bengal government sent 3 Ministers to monitor the strike and to ensure that the Bandh is not imposed.
In doing so they must have assumed that people do actually want to side with Bengal, but are not doing so due to fear of GJM. However, that is where Bengal overplayed their hand. They underestimated the ‘GORKHA’ factor.
We – the Gorkhas are a very simple group of people, if we love someone we will willingly die for them, but when someone tries to impose their will upon us, we tend to take a stand against it, no matter whatever are the consequences.
Despite 3 ministers, 10 development boards, entire district administration, massive deployment of security forces, entire TMC cadres from the hills + hired goons from the plains being present, fact remains that they couldn't keep Darjeeling hills open.
Ministers were seen banging on the doors and shutters of shut down shops forcing them to open... on the 28th, TMC completely lost the plot. While GJM announced the strike, they didn't impose it... whereas Bengal government used district administration and held meetings with hoteliers, travel agents, drivers associations, and shop keepers requiring them to keep their businesses open, but despite all their threats and cajoling when all their efforts failed and people supported the strike, they started to bang on the doors and shutters demanding opening of the businesses... Yet, they didn’t succeed.
Nothing is more telling than the picture shared below. Its from Kalimpong... generally this place is so crowded that there is not even enough room to stand... and on the 28th, not just the shops were closed, even the people chose not come out of their homes.
Without any prejudice, I feel that it was very unbecoming of the Ministers to go around forcing people to open their shops. It’s one thing to assure people of law and order helping them if required to keep their businesses open, but quite another to go around asking people to open shops, not with police but with party workers. The lines between a Minister of the Govt of Bengal and TMC party cadre was completely blurred in the hills on the 28th, and I am confident that the Hon’ble Ministers acted as party cadres instead of Government servants that day.
In bringing down a large contingent of security forces, in requiring schools to remain open, in banging on the doors and shutters of businesses and demanding that they remain open, Trinmool Congress and by extension the Bengal government were jeopardizing the lives of the people in the hills.
What if major clashes had broken out between bandh supporters and those opposing the bandh right at the time schools got off? Had school going children been caught in the cross-fire and injured, who would have been responsible? If shops and businesses were burned down and vandalized, would the Bengal government have compensated? If violence broke out, who would have been responsible?
In order to prove their might, the Bengal government crossed that sacred line which makes every government responsible for the safety, security and well-being of its citizens, and that is what boomeranged on them. The hill people decided to rebel and shut down their shops, businesses, vehicles and hotels.
Had TMC been a little more pragmatic, they could have let the bandh happen, as that would have put the hill people against GJM. People would have wanted to know, why they should shut down to justify GTA funds misuse allegations. But TMC being what it is, they took the bait and issued draconian orders.
The draconian measures undertaken by TMC party using West Bengal government administrative mechanisms to thwart the strike on September 28th, 2016 was seen as a trailer of how dictatorial it is going to get for Darjeeling and its people, if we choose not to adhere to their diktat. With less than 15% support in the hills, today TMC is already going dictatorial, imagine what will happen if their support reaches 20% or 30%?
This high handedness by TMC sent a direct message to the hill people, toe our line or we will make you do so.
Till TMC overdrive to ensure Bandh doesn’t happen, the hill people were against GJM, but the moment TMC decided to issue diktats, it became a matter of US vs Bengal, and that is where TMC lost the plot. People who don’t like GJM, decided to support the bandh, because they all felt that allowing Bengal to run its writ in Darjeeling would ruin our autonomy, and the latent desire for self-governance through Gorkhaland statehood was awakened.
GJM won the moral victory on the 28th, they requested and people shut down... TMC forced and people didn't open, and no matter how many channels report to the contrary, the fact remains that on September 28th, the hills stood united.
It may not have been in support of GJM, but it was definitely against TMC and its draconian diktats.