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

Bengali optional in hills: CM Mamata Banerjee

4:48 PM

-BIRESWAR BANERJEE

Mirik, June 5: Mamata Banerjee today said Bengali would not be compulsory at schools in the Darjeeling hills and in certain areas of the Dooars and the Terai.

The chief minister's about-turn is perceived to be aimed at meeting the twin objectives of soothing the frayed nerves in the hills and retaining the advantage Trinamul had made in recent civic polls.

Despite Mamata's announcement, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha said it would continue to hold processions across the hills till June 8 on the language issue.

Mamata made the announcement at a government programme here amidst an agitation launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on the language issue.

"Some persons here are playing politics and trying to divide people. The GTA elections are ahead and as they lack a proper issue, they are spreading rumours. We want to make it clear that Bengali will not be a compulsory language in the hills and in some parts of the Terai and the Dooars," Mamata said.

After the state government had made public its plan to make learning of Bengali compulsory at schools, Mamata and education minister Partha Chatterjee said the decision would be applicable to the hills as well.

However, the chief minister made a U-turn in Mirik today and said Bengali would be the fourth language in the hills.

"If Bengalis can read Nepali, then why can't Gorkhas read Bengali? We want to keep Bengali as an optional language as students in the hills need to know Bengali. In due course, when they will move out to other parts of the state for jobs, this learning will help them. It will be an optional language here," she said.

The change in the decision, observers said, was necessary to ensure that the hills did not shun Trinamul that had just won Mirik municipality and some seats in three other hill civic bodies.

"The decision had led to protests in the hills and the Morcha that was a bit upset after losing Mirik to Trinamul got a pertinent issue to revive its support base. After today's announcement, the situation has again become favourable for Trinamul," an observer said.

Mamata also said the state government would audit the spending of funds by the GTA that is administered by the Morcha.

(Via:Telegraph )

WILL NOT SPARE GTA IF GOVERNMENT’S MONEY FOUND MISUSED - MAMATA

9:42 AM

Kolkata, June 5 (IANS) Coming down heavily on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration – the development body in the north West Bengal hills, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced a special audit to check how it has utilised the government aids and a punishment ifany discrepancies are found.

“I have decided to run a special audit on the money that GTA received from the government. If GTA has stolen money, I will not spare them. This is common man’s money,” Banerjee said at a public meeting in Darjeeling district’s Mirik.

“I have instructed the Finance Department to run a special audit on how the money has been used. If they have done a good job, we will reward them. But if we find some discrepancy, we will not spare even the secretary of the GTA,” she said.

The Trinamool Congress supremo also attacked the semi-autonomous administrative body on the issue of the state government’s new three language policy.

Claiming that she has never said Bengali would be compulsory in the hills, Banerjee alleged that GTA is spreading “such lies” to create a divide between Bengalis and Nepalis of the region, as they do not have any other political issues.

“I have never said that Bengali would be compulsory in the hills. This is 100 percent lie. I haven’t seen such a liar in my life who always resort to the politics of lies. (Gorkha National Liberation Front chief Subash) Ghising was not like this,” Banerjee said in a veiled reference to Gorkha Janmukti Morcha chief Bimal Gurung.

The Ghising-led GNLF was in the forefront of the movement for a separate Gorkhaland since the 1980s, but lost its dominance to the GJM in 2008.

On July 18, 2011, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM, and the state and central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.

The GJM won the first GTA elections held in 2012, and is running the board since then.

“The GTA election is approaching and they have no other issues. That is why they are resorting to this sort of politics. They are trying to divide the Bengalis and Nepalis here,” she claimed.

Pointing out that the state government has never objected to the students of the hills learning Nepali, Banerjee said it is important to know a little bit of Bengali to get job elsewhere in the state.

“We have never asked the students of the hills to stop learning Nepali, Hindi or English. It is always better to know as many languages as possible. But if we do not keep Bengali as an option, how would you people come to the other places in Bengal and work there?” she asked.

“In a Nepali-speaking region, knowing Nepali is important but in Bengal, knowing a little bit of Bengali is also important,” she added.

[Via: IANS]

Why has the demand for Gorkhaland returned to Darjeeling?

9:52 AM
Why has the demand for Gorkhaland returned to Darjeeling?

Written by Aniruddha Ghosal

The demand for a seperate Gorkha state is an issue that since its first origins in the 1970s has dictated politics in the hills.

September 28, 2016  In 2009, Mamata Banerjee’s proximity to Bimal Gurung was a cause of great concern for the Left. At the time, Gurung-led GJM had perfected the bandh-boycott movement in their Gorkhaland movement – indefinite shutdowns, boycotting government taxes, telephone, electricity bills, blocking national highways to paralysing panchayats. As a 12-hour bandh returns to Darjeeling, it is apparent that while a lot has changed since 2009 – some things haven’t.

Prime among them is the sheer fervor of the Gorkhaland demand – a fervor that Bimal Gurung, now on the back foot hopes will provide him enough ammo to combat friend-turned-foe Mamata Banerjee as she continues her tactic of dividing the hills, combining development with the creation of different boards. Meanwhile, Darjeeling waits, anxiously.
demand for Gorkhaland
Demand for Gorkhaland a file Photo

Bimal Gurung and Gorkhaland, today
On the face of it, the 2016 Assembly elections were a victory for Bimal Gurung. But the party’s performance – particularly in Kalimpong, which had historically been Gurung’s political backyard – have left the party worried. Even more worrying is the string of senior party leaders fleeing ship and joining the Trinamool Congress, including GTA chairman Pradeep Pradhan, joining the TMC. Unsurprisingly Gurung relaunched the Gorkhaland demand, while simultaneously filing a plea in the Supreme Court challenging the West Bengal government’s refusal to transfer administrative power and various subjects to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, in spite of a tripartite agreement that was reached within the state and union governments in 2011.

Gurung’s dominance of politics in Darjeeling began in 2007, with him emerging as the voice for the demand for a seperate Gorkha state, the issue that since its first origins in the 1970s has dictated politics in the hills. The movement had seen its most violent phase between 1986-88 when Subhash Ghishing’s Gorkha National Liberation Front lead the movement, until his lieutenant Gurung began his own party with the GJM in 2007. Journalist and long time observer Romit Bagchi, in his book, “Gorkhaland: Crisis of Statehood” points out that the “singular quality” that allowed Gurung to replace Ghising’s leadership was “his invincible loyalty to the paramount cause of the community” – the demand for statehood. Writing in 2009, Bagchi predicts that “people would not accept a mellowed Bimal Gurung who speaks the voice of reason and restraint”.

His opposition believes that Gurung’s popularity has been waning, with many believing that he fell into the very trap of “reason and restraint” while joining hands with the Trinamool. Now, Gurung knows that he’s cornered by Trinamool Congress – who has begun a tactic of ‘divide and rule’ – that has left him virtually alone. His decision to relaunch the Gorkhaland protest – with bandhs and boycoots – is not just a case of ensuring political relevance, but also a return to the form of politics that he is most familiar with.

Mamata Banerjee’s tactics
Meanwhile Mamata Banerjee’s politics, of divide-and-rule combined with the unwavering rhetoric of development (which the opposition alleges is just that, rhetoric) has allowed her to make inroads into the hills. On October 2009, Mamata Banerjee – the then rail minister – flagged off the long awaited New Jalpaiguri-Digha Weekly Express and said that the railway link between Darjeeling hills and the sea would usher in a “new era” with “enormous possibilities” and “fresh employment opportunities”. In the past six years, none of this has changed. In her last speech in Kalimpong, Banerjee announced the government’s decision to accord Kalimpong seperate district status, a longstanding demand of the area while once again launching into a speech laden with the rhetoric of development. A slew of new announcements and projects, along with the customary call for “peace” – Banerjee’s politics seems unchanged.

But in the run up to the 2016 elections, Banerjee started announcing the creation of development boards for different communities living in Darjeeling – the Lepcha Development Board and the Tamang Development Board. This apart from the GTA which is responsible for governing the whole of Darjeeling district. While the Gorkhas remain the dominant community here, the Lepchas, Limpus, Tamangs, Bhutias, Rais, Dukpas, Sherpas, and Tibetans also form a sizeable population. In the speech at Kalimpong, Banerjee announced, “More boards will be announced”

Via indianexpress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Various sources

Roshan Giri's Effigy burnt in Darjeeling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(EOIC)

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

10:42 AM
Writes Bireswar Banerjee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Via telegraph


Pradip Pradhan joined Trinamul blaming GJM not delivering on its promise

10:19 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The meeting is likely to be held on August 26.

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

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

There are 45 elected members in the GTA Sabha.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Via Telegraph

 
Copyright © Indian Gorkhas. Designed by Darjeeling Web Solutions