Showing posts with label Swaraj Thapa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Swaraj Thapa. Show all posts

Lets give it a final push: Granting ST status to Gorkhas

9:54 AM
Writes Swaraj Thapa

There has been immediate, widespread reaction within the Gorkha community to the BJP led Central goverment's decision to set up a high level secretarial committee to look into and recommend granting of Scheduled Tribe status to 11 Gorkha communities in India, much of it heartily welcoming the move but some doubting it.

The single page order issued on April 2, 2016 by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Government of India, states that a committee is being set up headed by Shri Ashok Pai, joint secretary in the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to “examine and recommend” regarding granting of ST status to eleven communities namely Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunwar, Thami, Yakkha (Dewan) and Dhimal living in Sikkim and other Gorkha dominated States and areas. The committee has been given a time frame of three months to submit its report to the government.

Coming in the face of ongoing assembly elections when the model code of conduct is in operation, it is obvious that the decision is being viewed with suspicion while also encountering protests from the Opposition, particularly the TMC. Sections opposed to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha think its a political ploy aimed at garnering votes in the elections. The TMC, on the other hand, have contended that the decision will distort the level playing field in the assembly elections, providing an advantage to the BJP and its alliance partner, the GJM in North Bengal region.
GJM Swaraj Thapa
GJM Swaraj Thapa
The charges do not carry much weight. The Centre is well within its jurisdiction to take such a decision in the overall interest of Gorkhas residing in different parts of the country as assembly elections are being held in only four states. There have been a number of precedents in the past when the Centre has taken decisions when elections are underway in a couple of states. Governance and administrative decision making cannot stop simply because assembly elections are being held in a few states. Then agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had announced sugar policy when assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh were underway.

Moreover, it was the very TMC government, which, through its state cabinet, had approved granting of tribal status to the 11 Gorkha communities and sent its recommendation to the Centre in 2014 just before the Lok Sabha elections got underway. No one then complained that the move was aimed at earning political dividend in the Lok Sabha elections. There have been other similar decisions, like the UPA government's move to go ahead with the announcement to create separate state of Telengana just before the 2014 general elections, clearly with the objective of electoral gains in that region. Mamata Banerjee's announcement to carve out a separate district of Kalimpong too was for the same reason and the fledgling JAP and its president, Harka Bahadur Chettri, is in fact contesting the assembly election from Kalimpong on the very plank of Kalimpong being made a district .

So it will not be surprising if Prime Minister Narender Modi speaks about the issue on Saturday when he visits Siliguri as part of his campaign tour. After his previous visit to Siliguri before becoming Prime Minister when he had said “Gorkha ka sapna mera sapna hai”, his likely assertion that Gorkhas will soon be granted Scheduled Tribe status is certain to be given more than a rousing welcome.
Politics apart, what is more important is that the decision is a milestone in the Gorkha community bid to seek inclusion as scheduled tribes. Like the West Bengal state cabinet's recommendation to the Centre, the setting up of the committee by the Centre is another important step in this direction. The issue is critical to the crore or so Gorkhas residing in the country, a majority of them in Sikkim, GTA region, Assam, other North east states, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand as they feel they are yet to get justice despite working equally for the country.

The will of the people is supreme in a democracy. And the Centre's decision does not find any objection whatsoever on grounds of merit from the small Gorkha community, who have been seeking ST status for decades. In fact, the GNLF was even quick to stake claim for the decision, contending that the late Subhash Ghisingh was the first to write to the Centre on the subject two decades ago. That they are only trying to bake their own political bread on the side when the fire is burning is obvious by the fact that they have not given any representation to the government either recently or in the last few years.
Elections will be over in the next fortnight, but what is critical now for the entire Gorkha community is to get together and make a final push to ensure that the decision gets recommended by the committee and sent for approval upwards. Although the terms of reference of the Ashok Pai committee are yet to be outlined by the Centre, Gorkhas living in Sikkim, GTA region, Assam, other northeast states, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand should not lose any time in getting their act together and make representations before the committee. Of course, the primary Gorkha leadership—Shri Pawan Kumar Chamling who heads the Sikkim government and Shri Bimal Gurung, who heads the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration will play a stellar role in devising a strategy and pushing the matter forward with the committee and the Central government.

But other political parties, non-political organisations, individuals as well as other outfits from all over India too should write to the committee outlining the reasons why Gorkhas need to be categorised as scheduled tribes. There is a need to absolutely convince Shri Ashok Pai and other members of the committee that the miniscule Gorkha community has not been able to get due justice in this country as they do not stand any chance when it comes to competition with the majority population because of their backwardness and other traits. There is no need to be garish or outlandish like the late Subhash Ghisingh when he held Jhakri parades and created his own plethora of Devis and Devtas but make a strong case for granting of ST status.

At present, there are five criteria-primitive traits, distinctive culture, shyness of contact, geographical isolation and backwardness that define who can be a Scheduled Tribe. But these characteristics are colonial in nature and the government is reworking them to include neutral socio-economic elements like educational backwardness, historical injustice and deprivation. Even autonomous religious practices can be one of the criteria, as per media reports. We, as Gorkha community, have to keep all this in mind, while making representations before the Ashok Pai committee.

For the record, Shri Gurung had raised the matter in a meeting with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this year, where I too was present as a delegation member. The GTA chief executive also met Tribal Affairs minister Jual Oram on the subject and in a number of the meetings, I also attended as a member.

The onus of deciding who can qualify as a scheduled tribe is also shifting from the Registrar General of India to the Tribal ministry, which is a positive step. It is also a fact that the Central government has been flooded with several applications from several communities to grant ST status. Howeever, the case of Gorkhas appears to have been fast forwarded—we have been picked from the line and taken to the front—only because of the fact that the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is a steadfast alliance partner of the BJP at the Centre. The GJM has left no stone unturned in assisting the BJP at all levels. It has allowed BJP to field candidates in its in stronghold areas in Terai and Dooars region of North Bengal. Parties like the GNLF and the fledling JAP have much to learn from GJM. Rather than hop from one party to another, they should know that loyalty can ultimately pays dividend. It is this philosophy that can also ultimately prove helpful in realising the demand of separate state of Gorkhaland.

State government not co-operating with the GTA - GJM to Governor

10:24 AM
Writes Vivek Chhetri

Darjeeling, Feb. 5: The GTA today invited the governor to inaugurate two college buildings in the hills and address a session of the GTA Sabha at a time the hill body's relations with the chief minister have touched an all-time low.

A four-member delegation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha called on governor Keshari Nath Tripathi at Raj Bhavan in Calcutta today and complained about the state government's alleged non-co-operation with the GTA.

Speaking over the phone from Calcutta, Morcha general secretary and GTA executive sabha member Roshan Giri, who led the team, said: "We have requested the governor to inaugurate the buildings of Mirik College and Bijanbari Degree College (built by the GTA). We have also appealed to him to address a GTA Sabha session in May. The governor has asked us to send him formal invitation letters."
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Roshan Giri (left) General Secretary GJM
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Roshan Giri (left) General Secretary GJM

The GTA's tentative plan is to invite the governor to inaugurate the college buildings on February 28.

Morcha Study Forum member Swaraj Thapa, former Kurseong MLA Rohit Sharma and GTA executive sabha member R.B. Bhujel were in the delegation.

The Morcha also complained to the governor against the state government's alleged apathy towards the hill body.

"Following the devastation caused in the hills by the earthquake and landslides last year, we had submitted an estimate of Rs 925 crore to the Centre. The Centre has released Rs 1,500 crore to the state disaster relief fund but we have not been given a single penny. We are unable to undertake even rehabilitation work in the hills," Giri said.

The Morcha leader also said that for Rs 55-crore drinking water schemes launched by the GTA, the government had only released Rs 28 crore. "As a result, we cannot complete the projects," said Giri.

He added: "Although the government had issued a notification to transfer departments such as land and land reforms, public works, food and supplies, and fire and emergency services to the GTA, the order was not implemented and employees are still reporting to the district administration. We told the governor about the dual administration."

The Morcha leader said the state had not allowed the GTA to function properly even three-and-a-half years after the hill body had come into existence. "We apprised the governor of all these issues as he is the constitutional head of the state and also administered oath to the chief executive of the GTA," said Giri.

The hill leaders had a long list of complaints against the state government. "Ninety per cent of the GTA employees are temporary. How can a body function with majority of casual employees. Formation of bodies such as the school service commission, college service commission and sub-ordinate selection board for the GTA as have been agreed upon by the Centre and state has not yet happened. Voluntary teachers are being forced to run educational institutions," said Giri.

He said the government was not even willing to sit for tripartite talks. "The last tripartite meeting was held in January 29, 2015," said Giri. A tripartite meeting scheduled for February 3 this year didn't take place and the Morcha has alleged that the talks didn't happen because of the state government's unwillingness to attend it.

Source Telegraph

Open debate between‬ Harka Bahadur Chettri and ‪Swaraj Thapa

7:39 AM

Much Hyped Debate An Exercise in Futility 

The much hyped debate between GTA's "Chief Advisor" Mr. Swaraj Thapa and till recently GJM MLA from Kalimpong Dr. Harka Bahadur Chettri was a downer, to say the least.

We were expecting fireworks and revelation of the inner-workings of GJM, GTA and the associated Gorkhaland movement, what we got was the same old "ghisa pita dialogue."

There were two main topics on the anvil: i) Gorkhaland statehood and the ongoing GJM Padyatra; ii) District status for Kalimpong sub-division.

The usual suspects, said the usual thing and left more questions unanswered than there were questions to begin with.

Speaking for the motion in support of "Padyatra for Gorkhaland" GTA's 'Chief Advisor' Mr. Swaraj Thapa unabashedly drew parallel with the padyatras undertaken by Gandhiji during India's freedom movement and claimed that, "just as how Gandhiji's padyatra went on to become successful in strengthening India's freedom struggle, GJM Chief Bimal Gurung's padyatra would be successful too in fulfilling the Gorkhaland dream. 

On expected lines, Dr. Chettri detracted the claim, and stated that the Padyatra will not reach its destination. He argued that “in fat when we look at all the activities undertaken by GJM, Gorkhaland seems to be an unreachable dream, which will remain unfulfilled.” He further claimed that, Gorkhaland has become a begging bowl, for various nefarious elements to take advantage of the hill sentiments.

Before we forget, let us remind our readers, Dr. Chettri was with GJM a month ago.

The 2nd issue was that of Kalimpong district, to which obviously Dr. Chettri proposed hope in the benevolence of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and claimed that “Kalimpong will be declared a district and the process for the same has already started.” However Dr. Chettri declined to name a timeline for when it would happen. He claimed that “when this demand will be fulfilled will depend on the Chief Minister and Bengal government.”

Rebutting him Mr. Thapa claimed that, “looking at the state of West Bengal government, especially that of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee that will not happen anytime.” He said that if Bengal were serious then the Bengal cabinet could approve the formation of a separate district for Kalimpong in a month’s time, however he articulated doubt that Bengal was merely using Dr. Chettri to divide the hill community to derail the Gorkhaland movement.

At the end of the debate anchored by Kalimpong Television Director Narendra Tamang and assisted by Himalaya Darpan journalist Mr. Taran Gurung and journalist from Jansarokar Mr. Chewang Yonzon there was no obvious winner, however there were obvious losers – the people of Darjeeling region, who all had come to watch a debate, and ended up watching avant garde political posturing which lead to nowhere. 

What a waste of time. 

via: TheDC

CPIM hand behind renewal of ‪‎Gorkhaland‬ agitation - Gautam Deb

11:00 AM
Minister Gautam Deb today said Bimal Gurung's decision to resume the statehood agitation was a result of a meeting between Siliguri mayor Asok Bhattacharya and Swaraj Thapa, the principal advisor to the GTA.

"Bimal Gurung's decision to resume the movement for statehood is the outcome of the recent meeting between Asok Bhattacharya and Swaraj Thapa. It is after this meeting that Morcha leaders sharpened attacks at the state and our party," Deb said. "We feel that Asok Bhattacharya is inciting the (Gorkha Janmukti) Morcha to resume its movement. People who are trying to encourage those who want division of Bengal will not succeed."

On September 22, Thapa had called on Bhattacharya and both leaders had termed the meeting "personal".
CPIM hand behind renewal of ‪‎Gorkhaland‬ agitation - Gautam Deb
CPIM hand behind renewal of ‪‎Gorkhaland‬ agitation - Gautam Deb Pic via Himalaya Darpan
Yesterday, Bimal Gurung, had said the Morcha would resume the movement soon.

Bhattacharya said: "I have said Swaraj Thapa is known to me for the past 10-12 years. It was entirely a personal visit. We have already cleared our stand over Gorkhaland and said that we don't want any division of state. Trinamul has given recognition to the demand by signing the GTA accord, where it was mentioned that Morcha was not dropping its demand for Gorkhaland. This has encouraged them."

Today, Trinamul published its manifesto for the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad polls.

Source Telegraph

Swaraj Thapa GTA advisor called on by Asok Bhattacharya, Siliguri Mayor

11:52 PM
By A newsman

Siliguri, 22 September: AMIDST the on-going upheaval in Darjeeling politics, the advisor to Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) Swaraj Thapa on Tuesday called on the Siliguri Mayor and CPI-M leader Asok Bhattacharya.

Thapa, who was a senior journalist with the Indian Express group in Delhi before joining the GTA as advisor in 2011, met Bhattacharya at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation around noon on Tuesday. He is very close to the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) supremo Bimal Gurung, who heads the autonomous GTA as its chief executive.

Both the Siliguri Mayor and Thapa maintained that the meeting was a courtesy call. But political observers suspect that a political understanding might be cooking between the CPI-M and the GJM as Trinamool Congress happens to be prime rival for both the parties.
GJM has some strong base among the Nepali speaking people living in and around Siliguri where the Mahakuma Parishad elections are scheduled on 3 October.
From the left Swaraj Thapa and Asok Bhattacharya
From the left Swaraj Thapa and Asok Bhattacharya
“I went to meet Mr Bhattacharya on a personal courtesy call and this has nothing to do with the GTA or politics. I gave him a bouquet as this is the first time we met after he became the Mayor,” Thapa said.

Bhattacharya however, acknowledged that they did discuss the political situation of Darjeeling Hills. “It was a courtesy call as I have known Thapa for several years now. But during the course of the discussion Darjeeling politics did came up,” the Mayor said.

“At present, Hills politics is not on our agenda. It shall be our focus at a later stage. But it is true that both the people of the Hills and Siliguri want to defeat the Trinamool,” he added brushing aside the possibility of any immediate understanding with the GJM.

The meeting comes at a time when two top GJM leaders have resigned from the party in a span of four days accusing Bimal Gurung of running the party in a dictatorial fashion.  Gurung in the meantime has gone to Nepal with some associates and family members “to offer puja” in a temple there.

Via newsmen

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