Showing posts with label Democratic Front. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Democratic Front. Show all posts

We cannot narrow down our demands to a communal label of Gorkhaland: Harka Bahadur Chettri

8:07 PM
Writes Meenal Thakur

Kalimpong, Darjeeling 14 April 2016: Harka Bahadur Chettri, 54, founder of the two-month old Jan Andolan Party (JAP), is fighting for election to the West Bengal assembly from Kalimpong constituency in Darjeeling district. Chettri, a former star campaigner of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) and Kalimpong legislator, broke away from the GJM, which is the dominant party in the hills, in September 2015. A biology teacher by profession, Chettri started his political career with the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) in 1986, which was then the main party of Gorkhas, founded to demand a separate state called Gorkhaland.

Chettri changed many political parties in the course of time, moving from GNLF to Gorkha Democratic Front (GDF) in 1992 and finally to GJM in 2007, campaigning for a separate Gorkhaland all through. In between, he left politics to write for local daily papers like the Wicked Review and Gangtok Times in the neighbouring state of Sikkim and even published his own newspaper in 2001 from Sikkim (it was shut down in six months). In an interview, Chettri spoke about his achievements as a legislator, the Gorkhaland movement, and why he founded JAP among other subjects.
We cannot narrow down our demands to a communal label of Gorkhaland: Harka Bahadur Chettri
Chettri started his political career with the GNLF in 1986, which was then the main party of Gorkhas,
founded to demand a separate state called Gorkhaland. Photo: Indranil Bhoumik/Mint
Edited excerpts:
You are fighting as the candidate of a two-month-old party. How will you gather support?

I resigned from the party (GJM) on 18 September 2015 and it was a difficult task to set up a new party with the limited time I had. But as the MLA (member of legislative assembly) there are certain things I have done which helped me find supporters. There was only one government college in Darjeeling, which came up in 1957. I was able to bring two government colleges, two Industrial Training Institutes (ITI) and one polytechnic college in my constituency.

More importantly, I had been campaigning for a district status for Kalimpong for a long time and even raised this issue in the legislative assembly. I was able to get cabinet approval for my proposal though the approval came three months after my resignation. I see this as a historic achievement for Kalimpong.

You were the star campaigner for GJM. Why did you leave the party?

There were ideological differences. On one hand, the party talks about the demand of Gorkhaland as their sole aim but they don’t raise the issue where it matters. The demand should be raised in Parliament, not in the assembly, or municipality or even panchayats and that is what GJM has been doing. Despite having a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from the area and BJP at the centre, no pressure was put on the MP to introduce a bill for a separate state in Parliament.

Moreover, GJM made a mess out of the Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA), which was set up in July 2011.There were many provisions like setting up a GTA Sabha, equivalent to a Vidhan Sabha, which we could have benefitted from but nothing happened. How can you expect someone to handle a higher body like a state when they have failed to handle a much lower body—the GTA.

GJM is merely using this demand as a slogan to be in power.

Do you still stand by the demand for Gorkhaland?

See, one has to prioritize. First you build infrastructure, create resources and once we would have thoroughly exhausted the provisions of GTA, then we demand a bigger body to cater to our aspirations. We have to explore GTA first, and then move to demand a separate state.

Any candidate fighting an MLA election on this agenda will be fooling the people.

I stand by the demand of a separate Gorkhaland but at the same time I also know which forum it needs to be raised on. Tomorrow, if I contest a Parliamentary election, then it will probably be on this plank.

Why did you form a party? You could have fought independently as well.

I am planning this on a long-term basis. I have taken my party’s name away from the normal communal line. A lot of emotional politics has been played since 1952 where parties were just exploiting the communal sentiment of people. I want to make the voters more rational and so they think about issues which immediately concern them. It is not just the Gorkhas who live here, there are other communities as well. They should also feel represented in a full democratic spirit.

We Gorkhas do belong to a community but we are scattered, we are a diaspora all over the country. Then how do we all connect? We cannot narrow down our demand to a communal label.

I want to start a new chapter in Gorkhaland politics.

Did you leave GJM due to your growing proximity to the Trinamool Congress?

Politics in the hills has always been that of fighting with the state (government). I want to put an end to this politics of confrontation and start a new chapter in the politics of cooperation.

By cooperating only I have been able to achieve the construction of the five educational institutions and the formation of Kalimpong as a separate district.

I will always maintain a good relation with the state government as I am going to the legislative assembly and if I burn my bridges, how will I work?

What are the top three issues on which you will fight this election?

Water, roads in rural areas and education. I have made it clear that anyone who fights the MLA (assembly) election on Gorkhaland issue is fooling the people.

What is your biggest challenge in this election?

Mindset. Deeply ingrained communal politics is the biggest problem and people will take time to get over it.

Via livemint

Democratic Front holds first public meeting in‪ Darjeeling‬ 

7:52 AM

The Democratic Front, a conglomeration of four political parties formed for restoration of democracy in the hills, held its first public meeting today in Darjeeling over various issues plaguing the region and lambasted the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and state government for turning a blind eye to those issues. The front picked out issues like the deteriorating law and order, undemocratic ways of the GJM and its insincerity towards the statehood demand including the apathy being shown by the state government in solving the Madan Tamang murder case.

The front’s members constitute the All India Gorkha League (AIGL), the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM), the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and the Sikkim Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch (SDEM). Pratap Khati, the AIGL general secretary and the DF convener, alleged the GJM of being involved in corruption and anti-national activities and demanded a probe. “From where is the GJM getting funds to run the party? Bimal Gurung is not a millionaire and does not have any known source of income. The central government should start a probe in this regard,” he said. Khati also pointed to the mysterious disappearance of Sanjay Thulung, the GJM central leader and Sabhasad accused of being involved in the Assam arms haul case earlier this year. “As per police investigations, Thulung is involved in anti-national activities. GJM leaders frequently visit the Northeast, which is the hub of insurgents. Although the GJM refutes this, but nothing happens without Gurung’s directives,” alleged the AIGL general secretary.

The DF convener also raked up the Madan Tamang murder issue saying the state government should initiate a judicial commission to investigate and get to the bottom of the case. “He (Tamang) was the only voice of democracy in the hills and he sacrificed his life to uphold it. However, nothing has been done by the state government to provide justice to the slain leader’s family. We demand the case be handled by a Special Investigation Team,” he said.

Tamang, who was the AIGL president, was hacked to death on May 21, 2010 in broad daylight in Darjeeling while overseeing preparations for the party’s public meeting. Investigating agencies have named several GJM leaders and activists in their charge sheet. Some of the leaders thus named have filed for bail for which the next hearing is scheduled on November 17. Govind Chhetri, spokesperson for the CPRM. alleged that the GJM and the BJP had betrayed the statehood demand. “We elected Jaswant Singh and SS Ahluwalia of the BJP as MPs but they have not worked for the statehood demand. The GJM president has embarked on a padyatra for Gorkhaland but it is only eyewash, to confuse the people,” he said.

Biren Lama of the GNLF, on the other hand, advocated for bringing the hills under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule, which he said would solve all existing problems. “We want the hills to be brought under the Sixth Schedule. And this is why the GJM’s demand for tribal status for various communities of the hills now has started,” he said. The front, however, did not announce its future political programmes saying it would do so after a meeting of its senior leaders in the days to come. 

Via: EOIC, pic: Himalaya Darpan

Bharati Tamang to Write to High Court Over Expediting Madan Tamang Murder case Hearing 

8:39 AM

Writes: Vivek Chhetri

Bharati Tamang, the wife of slain ABGL leader Madan Tamang, has said she will write to the chief justice of Calcutta High Court to expedite the process of hearing the anticipatory bail pleas of Bimal Gurung and 22 other Morcha leaders named in the CBI chargesheet on the murder of her husband.

The Democratic Front, a conglomeration of four political outfits from the hills - the ABGL, CPRM, GNLF and Sikkim-Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch - today took the decision.

Pratap Khati, the convener of the front and general secretary of the ABGL, said: "Bharati Tamang has decided to write to the chief justice of Calcutta High Court to expedite the process of hearing the anticipatory bail application. We have faith in the judiciary system but the continuous delay in passing an order on the anticipatory bail application is making us frustrated. Even if bail has to be granted, let it be granted but we would request the court to pass an order on this application."

Bharati, who was seated beside Khati, said: "I will send the letter in the next few days."

The hearing of the anticipatory bail application is slated for November 17.

The CBI had named Gurung and senior Morcha leaders like Roshan Giri, Binay Tamang, Bhupendra Pradhan, Asha Gurung, Lt Col (retd) Ramesh Allay and others in a chargesheet filed at a city session court in Calcutta on May 29.

Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the Kalimpong MLA who resigned from the Morcha recently, is among the 23 named in the chargesheet.

Tamang was hacked to death in Darjeeling on May 21, 2010, by suspected Morcha supporters when he was preparing to hold a public meeting.

Source: Telegraph

Surrender notice to Democratic Front leaders

Vivek Chhetri

Ten Democratic Front leaders hill leaders opposed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, including Bharati Tamang, have been served police notices to surrender in a case of blocking a national highway, which they will appeal in high court.
Democratic Front leaders - Bharati Tamang  fast on to death
Democratic Front leaders / Bharati Tamang  fast on to death
The notice, which was issued on June 28, refers to a June 14 incident when Bharati and other leaders of the Democratic Front, a conglomeration of four hill outfits, started a march from the Gorkha Dukha Niwarak Sammelan Hall down NH55 to Chowrasta where the widow of Madan Tamang sat on a hunger strike.

Bharati was demanding the arrest of 23 Morcha supporters and top leaders, including Bimal Gurung, in the case of her husband's murder.

The CBI has chargesheeted the 23 after investigating the 2010 murder. The police notice sought their surrender within seven days of receiving the order. According to sources, different leaders got the order on different days.

At a meeting today, the Front said it had decided to file a writ petition in Calcutta High Court, challenging Darjeeling police's notice.

Darjeeling police on their own registered a case against 10 Front leaders for unlawful assembly, wrongfully restraining a person, obstructing a public servant from discharging his duty, which are bailable. They have also been charged under Section 8 (B) of the National Highway Act, which is non-bailable.

Apart from ABGL chief Bharati, the notice was sent to party leaders Pratap Khati and Laxman Pradhan, Democratic Front convenor Shankar Hang Subba, CPRM president and former Darjeeling MP R.B. Rai, spokesman for the CPRM Govind Chhetri, and GNLF president Mann Ghisingh. Three other GNLF leaders, Manikamal Chhetri, Biren Lama and Pravin Zimba, were also served the notices.

The Democratic Front is conglomeration of the ABGL, CPRM, GNLF and the Sikkim-Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch.

The decision to challenge the notice was taken at a meeting of Front leaders held in the ABGL office here today.

After the meeting, Subba said: "The voice of the people is being snatched but we will take this as a challenge. We will go to Calcutta High Court this week against the police's decision to slap cases on us."

Khati alleged that a police officer misbehaved with Bharati.

He said the Front would mention this in the plea.

Source: Telegraph

Bharati Tamang discharged from the Hospital

11:46 AM
 Ms. Bharati Tamang, AIGL President and wife of Late Madan Tamang has recovered from health complication arising after her hunger strike and has been released from the hospital.

Speaking to the press briefly Ms. Tamang said, "I respect the law of the land and I have full faith in the court systems..."

She added, "I do feel weak, so I will be heading home straight away, as doctors have advised me to take complete rest... I will decide on the future course of action only after that..."

No one from AIGL or Democratic Front, under whose banner Ms. Bharati Tamang had launched her hunger strike, were present at the hospital, and only her family members were present.

Apparently all the AIGL leaders had gone to meet Bengal Chief Minister Mamata at that time, where as other Democratic Front leaders had a meeting going on at the same time.

Bharati Tamang lifts Hunger Strike

9:48 PM
Bharati Tamang, wife of Late Madan Tamang, who was in hunger strike since Sunday demanding the arrest of all the GJM ledaers named in the CBI chargesheet under the banner of Democratic Front, has lifted Hunger strike today at 5:15 pm due to serious health problem.
Bharati Tamang lifts Hunger Strike
Bharati Tamang lifts Hunger Strike
Meanwhile, spokesperson of Democratic Front, Mr. Sankhar Hang Subba said that "Court verdict was in favour of us and we respect Court proceedings. And it is not the bail that granted it is simply making the case stronger in favour of us."

source; TheDC

Bharati sets Sunday deadline for fast onto death stir, DF prepares Sunday address

10:21 PM
Darjeeling June 11: If the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders are a worried lot at present in the hills, the opposition (read anti-GJM outfits), specifically AIGL, are not far behind. Apprehensive of CBI taking its time to arrest top rung GJM leaders despite warrant being issued, Bharati Tamang, the AIGL president has decided to sit on a fast onto death stir from Sunday.
Political forum–'Democratic Front' in Darjeeling
Political forum–'Democratic Front' in Darjeeling
Twenty-three GJM leaders of high profile has been charge sheeted by the CBI on the Madan Tamang murder case. A Calcutta city court has already issued warrant of arrest for the 23 leaders including Bimal Gurung, the GJM chief. However, with GJM filing anticipatory bail at the Calcutta High court and hearing for the same pending because of cease work for three days, the party which rules the GTA is a worried lot.

The CBI whatsoever has not arrested anyone so far and things have no gone well with the AIGL. “The fast onto death is a last resort for me. The CBI is only dillydallying arrest,” Tamang told journalists on Thursday. Bharati Tamang is also the widow of slain leader Madan Tamang.
Tamang had been murdered on May 21, 2010 under broad daylight at Clubside in Darjeeling while overseeing preparation for a public address that he was to make on the very day.

Bharati’s fast onto death is expected to be followed by a public meeting on Sunday to be organized by the Democratic Front (DF). The DF is a conglomeration of four anti-GJM hill parties formed with an aim to return democracy in the hills. The conglomerate also vouches to work for seeking justice in the Madan Tamang murder case.  The DF comprises of the AIGL, Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist, Gorkha National Liberation Front and the Sikkim Darjeeling Merger Forum.

“Permission has been applied for the meet on Sunday. We have also put up posters to sensitize the mass in the hills,” said Shankar hang Subba, the spokesperson for DF.

CPIM withdrawal 

Ironically, days after the formation of the conglomerate the CPIM has withdrawn itself from the DF. The CPIM top leadership in the district feels that the DF should also take up other issues. “The Madan Tamang murder is a sub-judice matter and we find no point is seeking justice through a forum seems redundant. So we withdrew,” said Saman Pathak, a CPIM district secretariat member.

The DF countered saying that the CPIM’s decision to step back has many reasons. “The CPIM was heading the Government when Madan Tamang was murdered. The role of the then West Bengal Government on this issue is murky. Why were there no adequate security arrangements despite anticipation of trouble? How did Nickol Tamang, supposed to be the mastermind of the murder, disappear from the custody of the CID?” said Pratap Khati, the ABGL secretary.

Source: The Himalayan Mirror

Mamata to visit Darjeeling has set the political temperature in the hills rising.

10:00 AM
The Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee is headed for Darjeeling, and she is expected to arrive here on the 16th of June for a three-day visit.
Mamata to visit Darjeeling has set the political temperature in the hills rising.

In the backdrop of the arrest warrants issued against the GJM top echelon, her visit has set the political temperature in the hills rising.

Observers have hinted that the state is counting on GJM to resign en-mass if Bimal Gurung is arrested. If that happens, then the state is set to call for a new elections to the GTA, and hence Mamata could try and work out a coalition with the newly formed 'Democratic Front' in this visit.

TMC has an excellent record of strengthening itself by poaching disgruntled politicians from other parties, and some speculate that TMC may directly try to lure in GJM sabhasads once Bimal and other GJM leaders are out of the equation due to arrest.

However, a section of observers have also stated that Mamata may join hands with Bimal once again, and implore to the Center to go slow on the investigations, if GJM promises not to pursue Gorkhaland statehood demand.

It might be recalled that Ms. Banerjee was the Chief Minister who handed over the investigations into Madan Tamang murder case to the CBI, and that Late. Madan Tamang's son, Sanjog Tamang later joined TMC, and had specifically stated that he is doing so to ensure justice for his father [Details:]

Hence, this visit by TMC Chief Mamata Banerjee has generated a lot of political interest here in the hills.

Source: TheDC

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