Writes: Rajeev Ravidas
Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri today said he would campaign for the creation of Kalimpong district as he had "phenomenal support" from the people of the hills and political parties.
Before leaving for Calcutta today, Chhetri told The Telegraph that political parties had asked him to co-ordinate the campaign and once he returned to the hills, he would "formalise things".
"I have been asked informally by political parties and other organisations to co-ordinate the campaign for Kalimpong district. I have been receiving phenomenal support from the people. People are very excited. I will be going to Calcutta today to discuss the development with the state government and I hope to meet some ministers (there). After returning, probably on Thursday, I will formalise things (the campaign)," he said.
Over the past few days, Chhetri has received support from anti-Gorkha Janmukti Morcha hill organisations like the ABGL, CPRM and Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM).
|Harka Bahadur Chhetri and Mamata Banerjee|
Today, Chhetri also said he was willing to join hands with anyone who wanted to work for Kalimpong's benefit. "I don't see any loss in taking help from anyone if it benefits the people of Kalimpong. That is what every right thinking politician should aspire for."
The leader who had resigned from the Morcha recently said: "There is too much sentimental politics in the hills, right from the beginning. It is only about sentiments and emotions, no rational and reasonable issue has come up as a popular demand. Sentiments have been exploited (by parties) over centuries."
Without naming anyone, he added: "I want people to become more reasonable and demand from leaders things that are tangible. We are not even being able to manage the municipality properly. It is because of the quality of leadership that we have."
ABGL vice-president Pratap Khati said today: "Yes, we are for the creation of Kalimpong district. I suggest that a steering committee comprising all political parties, civil society leaders and NGOs under Dr Chhteri be formed and the matter be taken forward."
Khati added that ABGL leaders met in Darjeeling today and discussed the demand to create Kurseong, and Siliguri-Mirik districts along with Kalimpong. "We will write to the chief minister about it."
An observer said the Morcha was now trying to play catch-up with Chhetri on the issue.
"Chhetri brought the issue to the limelight by cleverly linking it to the perceived dominating attitude of the largely Darjeeling-based Morcha leadership towards Kalimpong. The Morcha will now find it difficult to take the wind out of Chhetri's sails," said the observer.