Showing posts with label Mamata Banerjee. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mamata Banerjee. Show all posts

Pushed to corner, Morcha hits out

7:38 AM

Writes : Vivek Chhetri and Avijit Sinha

Darjeeling, June 8: The turmoil in the hills today is being seen as an outburst of a pent-up anger of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha cadres and their apparent apprehension about the party's performance in the GTA elections in the wake of Trinamul gaining a toehold in the region, political observers have said.

Trinamul has made recent inroads into the hills by winning the Mirik civic seat and has managed a section of people on its side by forming 15 development boards for communities. The Trinamul-led government has also been pushing forward its development agenda - upgrading Kalimpong into a district and Mirik into a sub-division.

Although the government's decision to make Bengali compulsory in schools had stirred the hill sentiments to the Morcha's advantage, Mamata Banerjee had blunted that too to some extent by announcing that the language would be made optional.

A political observer pointed out that the state government's sustained campaign to push the Morcha to the wall was being felt not only by the senior leaders but also its cadres and the party was desperate to make its presence felt.

"For the past few days, the chief minister and her government have time and again deflated any Morcha agitation. In fact, after she declared that Bengali will not be compulsory in the hills, questions were raised on the justification of the Morcha's calls for strikes and agitations. The hill party was desperate to consolidate its support base by playing the Gorkhaland card and by fuming at the state again. This led to today's outburst," the observer said.

Trinamul leaders in the hills iterated that the Morcha's anger was the result of the ruling party's attempts to corner it.

"We could sense that there were instigations over the past few days and today, the party indulged in violence. This is because they have no political issue to counter Trinamul as we are solely working on the agenda of development and gaining support everyday," said Binny Sharma, a spokesperson of Darjeeling district Trinamul.

He alleged that the violence today was a "planned move".

"The chief minister has been consistently coming to the hills and announcing projects every time. It is because of this agenda of development that we won the Mirik municipality and secured seats in three other civic bodies of the hills. Now that the GTA elections are ahead, Morcha leaders and cadres are worried if they can win a majority of the seats this time. It is more so because in the past five years, the GTA has failed miserably in meeting the aspirations of the hill people," he added.

Morcha chief Bimal Gurung had yesterday accused Mamata of dividing the Gorkha community.

"You come here so many times and every time you come, you wipe the smile out of people's face. But you keep saying that the hills are smiling. You are dividing our community into bits and pieces. Your intentions are not good for the hills," he had said.

"Trinamul will collapse in two minutes if they don't have the police on their side," he added.

Another Trinamul leader alleged that the Morcha was trying to divert the people's attention from the promises made by its ally BJP over Gorkhaland before it came to power at the Centre.

"Since 2014, when the NDA government came to power with the assurance that it would sympathetically consider the demand of Gorkhaland, there hasn't been an inch of progress. Only some more assurances have flown in from the Centre. Some other hill parties had become vocal against the Morcha for clinching to the GTA and not doing anything on the statehood issue," said Rajen Mukhia, the president of the Darjeeling district Trinamul.

Morcha ally BJP attacked Mamata over the unrest and her decision to call the army.

"She has been going to the hills every month. We keep hearing that the hills are smiling. If it is so, why does she need to call the army?" asked BJP state president Dilip Ghosh.


Mamata responsible for Darjeeling unrest - Oppositions

2:30 AM

West Bengal Opposition reacts: Kashmir-like policy in Darjeeling, divisive politics, Mamata Banerjee in turf war

THE OPPOSITION came together on thursday, slamming Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for her alleged failure in controlling the violence in Darjeeling. Maintaining that just like in Kashmir, the problems of Darjeeling hills will not be solved with the use of Army or force, the CPM asked the state government to solve the sensitive issue with a cautious approach. “The situation in Darjeeling is concerning. The policy adopted by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is equivalent to the Centre’s policy regarding Kashmir. However, the problems of Darjeeling will not be solved by force. It requires discussion. Let peace prevail in the hills,” said CPM Secretary Surjya Kanta Mishra in a statement.

Echoing him, CPM Lok Sabha MP Mohammad Salim said the situation in Darjeeling has turned worse due to Mamata’s “divisive politics”. “She intends to capture everything — be it a municipality, club or any other establishment. Instead of allowing the Gorkha Territorial Administration to work freely, she interfered in its functioning. She created development boards based on ethnic groups, which created further division among people of Darjeeling. She broke their unity and now the outcome is clear. It is a sensitive issue, and must be dealt with a human touch,” he added.

Salim asked the state government to make all necessary arrangements to help tourists stranded in Darjeeling to return to the plains. “We have seen how similar policies adopted by the Centre had jeopardised the situation in Kashmir and Manipur. This kind of policy will not work in Darjeeling hills. Deploying Army will only aggravate the situation. Banerjee must show her political will to solve the problem. But first protection must be provided to stranded tourists,” he said.

Slamming Mamata, state Congress president Adhir Chowdhury said the CM should restrain herself from making “provocative comments”.

“Darjeeling hills has been turned into a place of showdown between Gurung and the chief minister. The persistent provocation of the chief minister has certainly aggravated the situation. Banerjee as usual did not recognise the verdict of the people and entangled herself in a turf war in the hills. I am concerned for the safety of the tourists. The CM should restrain herself from making any provocative comments,” said Chowdhury.

BJP state president Dilip Ghosh also accused Mamata of escalating the situation. “Banerjee is herself responsible for this. If she can go to Delhi and organise protest against the central government, GJM too has the right to organise protests against the state government,” he said.


Army deployed in Darjeeling, BJP demands peace Committee

2:21 AM

BJP demands peace committee to contain violence in Darjeeling

KOLKATA: The BJP today criticised the West Bengal government for failing to contain violence in the Darjeeling hills and demanded that a peace committee be formed to restore peace. "The TMC administration has completely failed to contain violence in the hills.

There was no shut down or violence in the hills for last three years. But, the TMC, which is trying to establish its own political hegemony in the hills, did everything to provoke violence and disturbance in the hills," BJP MP from Darjeeling S S Ahluwalia told PTI.

Ahluwalia questioned the reason behind deployment of the Army when the entire state cabinet is present in the hills. "When the entire state cabinet including the Chief Minister is present in the hills, why did the administration failed to control the situation? What was the reason behind deployment of Army? We will talk to the Union Home Ministry regarding the situation.

We demand that a peace committee be formed immediately in the hills with GJM and state administration to restore peace and normalcy," he said. Two columns of Army were deployed in the restive Darjeeling town today after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters clashed with the police, damaged police vehicles and set some of them ablaze while Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was holding a cabinet meeting there.


Fear of fresh agitation lingers in Darjeeling

2:55 PM

-Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, June 7: The situation in the Darjeeling hills once gain became fluid with Bimal Gurung announcing a two-hour dharna by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters barely 300m from Raj Bhavan when the Bengal cabinet would meet there tomorrow afternoon.

The Morcha president said the party would announce a new round of movement if the cabinet didn't decide that Bengali wouldn't be compulsory at schools in the hills, Dooars and the Terai.

The two-hour dharna on the road in front of Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan is expected to synchronise with the cabinet meeting at Raj Bhavan.

Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and Raj Bhavan are barely 300m apart.

The chief minister had said in Mirik on Monday that Bengali would be an optional subject at the schools in the hills and certain pockets of the Dooars and the Terai. But Gurung said Mamata's words couldn't be taken at face value and decided to continue with processions on the language issue.

Today also, the Morcha took out a march, after which a meeting was held at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

Addressing the meeting, Gurung said: "Tomorrow, we will hold massive marches from Batasia (about 6km from the town) and Singamari (3km from here). Morcha supporters of the town will join the procession from Batasia near the railway station."

Gurung said more than 30,000 supporters would take part in the two rallies which would converge on Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan.

"We will all sit on the road for two hours. After that, depending on the outcome of the cabinet meeting, we will announce our next step. The cabinet should take a decision tomorrow that Bengali will not be made compulsory in the hills, Terai and the Dooars. If such a decision is taken, we will thank her. If no such decision is taken, we will announce another round of agitation," said the Morcha president.

The rallies are scheduled to start at 11am and reach the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan around 12.30pm tomorrow. A two-hour sit-in would then continue till 2.30pm at the earliest. The cabinet meeting chaired by Mamata is slated to commence at Raj Bhavan at 2pm.

Police hadn't given permission to the Morcha to take out the march today. There is no permission for tomorrow's processions either. The police didn't act against marches yesterday and today to avoid a confrontation with the Morcha.

However, administrative officials are worried that a confrontation might take place tomorrow given the timing and the venue of the dharna.

Movement of ministers and officials to Raj Bhavan is expected to start around 11am tomorrow. Any difficulty in the movement could result in a law and order problem.

In his speech today, Gurung launched a broadside against Mamata.

"They are raking up the Madan Tamang murder case which is in court now. However, it was the same government that had slapped cases on Bharati Tamang and others when they launched a hunger strike at Chowrasta. Now, she is using the same issue. She talks about corruption at our end but her party and leaders are fighting graft cases," said Gurung.

Even though he said the Morcha would announce fresh agitation if the cabinet did not take a decision as desired, he did at one time say in his nearly hour-long speech that the party was "watching" Delhi.

"There has been a continuous attempt to suppress us on all fronts. However, you cannot stop the storm that is brewing now. It could take any turn. We are just watching Delhi and its reaction," said Gurung.

A Morcha delegation, comprising Roshan Giri and three party MLAs, called on BJP state president Dilip Ghosh in Calcutta today. The delegation also met governor Keshari Nath Tripathi. The team had met Assembly speaker Biman Banerjee in Calcutta last evening. The three were apprised of the developments in the hills regarding the language issue, said Morcha leaders.

[Via: Telegraph ]

Bengali optional in hills: CM Mamata Banerjee

4:48 PM


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 )


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]

Lights-off protest call in Mirik against bengali language imposition

5:26 PM

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)

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