Trinamool vs the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by Ray, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Mamata to meet Morcha

    MEGHDEEP BHATTACHARYYA
    Calcutta, June 11: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will meet a Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation at Writers’ Buildings on June 14 and a civil society delegation from Darjeeling the following day to discuss the Justice Shyamal Sen committee report on the inclusion of territories in the new body for the hills.

    The Morcha had sought an appointment with the chief minister this month after the 10-member high-powered committee recommended the inclusion of five of the 396 mouzas the party had been demanding in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration.

    Today, Mamata said she has agreed to meet them on Thursday.

    “They (the Morcha) asked for an appointment with me. I received the letter this afternoon. I have given them time on June 14. Members of Darjeeling’s civil society also wanted to meet. I will meet them on June 15,” Mamata said at Writers’ this afternoon.

    Sources at Writers’ said the chief minister would cite the March 24 bilateral agreement signed between the Morcha and the state government in her effort to persuade the hill party to accept the committee’s recommendations.

    The Morcha has rejected the recommendations and said it is a “humiliation” for the people of Darjeeling.

    A clause in the March 24 agreement reads: “It has also been decided that the recommendations of the high powered committee will be accepted by the state government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.”

    The agreement also said that elections to the GTA would be held either at the end of June or early July.

    “The Morcha had agreed in writing to holding the elections on time and they had agreed to accept the recommendations irrespective of what they were. They can’t back out now,” said a bureaucrat. “This is what the government would emphasise when the Morcha delegation comes to meet the chief minister.”

    Asked what the Morcha had to say, party general secretary Roshan Giri replied: “It will depend on what the chief minister has to say as we have demanded 396 mouzas. We want the government to come up with some solution to redress our grievance.”

    On the March 24 pact, Giri said: “That agreement had been based on the belief that the report would be a fair one. The recommendations are an insult to us”.

    Writers’ sources said the government would make it clear to the Morcha that the hill outfit was bound to accept the high-powered committee’s recommendations “legally” and “morally” because of the March 24 agreement,

    “We will also emphasise the need to hold elections to the GTA as soon as possible because hundreds of crores of central funds for the GTA are locked up and development of the hills would not happen,” an official said. “The Morcha also realises the need for elections as soon as possible.”

    The government, according to sources, is not willing to buckle under pressure from the Morcha because everything has been done according to the tripartite agreement signed last year — the GTA Act was framed in accordance with this deal — and the bipartite agreement of March 24 this year.

    Besides, the Morcha would be told that their perspective had been sought and accounted for in every step, including in the Justice Sen committee that had four Morcha representatives.

    The government would point out to the Morcha that they were deferring the formation of the GTA at their own peril and they too need the election to be held on schedule.

    “That is why, despite their threats, they are willing to talk now. The more they try to defer the election process that would lead to the formation of the GTA, the more steadily will their support base erode,” the official said.

    “We are working on conducting the elections on time. Although the dates are yet to be fixed, we would like to finish the process by July 15,” he added.

    The delimitation part of the process is already over, the government is working out the dates for the polls to the new hill body now. Once the dates are finalised, a notification will be issued for the first step, the filing of nominations.

    ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VIVEK CHHETRI IN DARJEELING

    Mamata to meet Morcha
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    Trinamul enters Morcha turf

    - Party claims 1500 inducted in first hill meet

    Panighata, June 11: The Trinamul Congress today inducted a number of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders at a public programme in Panighata and signalled the possibility of contesting the GTA polls scheduled for next month.

    A number of GNLF leaders, including former DGHC councillors, also joined Trinamul along with middle-ranking Morcha leaders in the presence of minister Gautam Deb. Trinamul claimed that nearly 1,500 people joined the party in its first public meeting in the Darjeeling hills, a Morcha turf.

    “Today’s was the first public meeting of Trinamul in the hills. We intend to spread our base in the hills and participate in the development process taken up by Mamata Banerjee,” Deb, who is the chairman of the Trinamul core committee of north Bengal, said. “Our intention is not to oppose any other political party but spread the message of peace, harmony and democracy to expedite development.”

    Deb said Trinamul would soon form committees at different levels in the hills.

    “Regarding the issue of the GTA mouzas and the polls, we will request the people to maintain peace as the party concerned (Morcha) will meet the chief minister soon. We want people to refrain from activities that might jeopardise progress and development in the hills,” Deb added.

    The meeting comes two days after the Justice Shyamal Sen committee’s report on the Morcha demand for territory was disclosed. The committee has recommended the inclusion of five plains mouzas in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), which has not gone down well with the Morcha that had demanded 396. The party has lined up a month-long agitation programme to protest the report.

    In Panighata today, Rajen Mukhia, a former GNLF leader with three former DHGC councillors K.N. Subba, N.B. Khawas and Tshering Sherpa, joined Trinamul. Following him were some middle-ranking Morcha leaders from the hills and the Terai like Bishal Chhetri, Yuvraj Tamang and Shyam Rai. Slogans like “long live Mamata Banerjee” rent the Panighata air.

    After the joining ceremony, the newly inducted members and Trinamul supporters from all three hill subdivisions, took out a procession in Panighata. Led by Deb and escorted by police, the rally culminated at the meeting venue.

    “The GNLF and Morcha could not achieve Gorkhaland and took the path of compromise for their own interests. But Mamata Banerjee, who visited the hills six times during her first year of governance, did a lot for the hills, right from sanctioning of funds for development to the implementation of new infrastructure projects,” Mukhia said. “We joined Trinamul today to bring peace, democracy and development in the hills.”

    While Deb refused to speak on the GTA polls, a Trinamul leader said: “The ultimate aim is to contest the elections. Nearly 1,500 people joined our party in a single day.”

    Asked if Trinamul had promised him a ticket in the GTA polls, Mukhia did not give a direct reply: “We are not saying anything on Gorkhaland. But regarding GTA, which would be formed through elections, it is a usual practice for regional and national parties to contest polls. We find nothing wrong in such participation.”

    Bishal Chhetri, a former member of the Terai committee of the Morcha, said discontentment was brewing among Morcha workers in the plains

    “Morcha leaders have failed to address our demand to be included in the GTA. The agreement was signed without considering our aspirations,” Bishal Chhetri said. “In Trinamul, there is no such pretence. The chief minister and her colleagues like Gautam Deb are working consistently for the hills with specific plans for development. We would prefer to be in Trinamul.”

    Shankar Adhikary, the president of the Terai committee of the Morcha, refused to put much importance to today’s programme. “Bishal Chhetri was the former president of the Terai branch committee and was removed from the post. Later, he was also expelled from Morcha,” Adhikary said, trying to dismiss Chhetri’s importance as a Morcha leader. “The others who joined lack political consciousness, are prone to ill habits like drugs and have their own interests. Trinamul’s entry however, will not affect the Morcha.”

    Some Morcha supporters had planned to waylay Deb with black flags to protest the Sen committee report but the minister took a different route while entering Panighata. Local sources said the Morcha was planning a public meeting tomorrow to counter today’s meeting and prove their base.

    Trinamul enters Morcha turf
     
  4. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    STEEP CLIMB

    The signing of a treaty is often the beginning, and not the end, of a reconciliation process. When an agreement was signed to create a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, it did not immediately solve the political problem in Darjeeling. Only Mamata Banerjee thought otherwise and claimed to have ‘settled’ the issue with the signing of the pact. She must now be ruing her hasty conclusion. The demand for the inclusion of some areas from the Dooars and the Terai in the territory under the GTA was a difficult one to tackle. For the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which persistently raised the demand, the expansion of the GTA’s territory was to be the first step towards getting a separate state of Gorkhaland. In its view, the GTA would be only an interim set-up. This is what the GJM leaders have been telling the people of Darjeeling for the past few years. They could not settle for anything less than a Gorkhaland even if that meant waiting for some more time. Until then, an expansion of the GTA could hold out hopes for the promised land. Thus, it is understandable why the recommendation of the committee headed by Shyamal Sen, a retired judge, has the GJM fuming and fretting.

    For the West Bengal government and the Centre, though, the agreement on the GTA showed that there was no question of another partition of Bengal. The two governments had to keep in mind the concerns of other people in the foothills of Darjeeling. The majority of these people were opposed to the idea of their areas falling under the GTA’s jurisdiction. The GJM’s hope of these areas becoming part of a future Gorkhaland became a fear for most people in the Dooars and the Terai. The chief minister may have been anxious to find a solution to the Darjeeling problem. But she had to be careful that a solution for the hills did not create new problems in the plains.

    All this should show how complex the issues in Darjeeling are. History and geography together have always made Darjeeling’s politics different from statehood stirs in other parts of India. Once a part of Sikkim, the Darjeeling hills lie on India’s border with Nepal. Major political events in Darjeeling have always had their reverberations in the tiny Himalayan country. The GJM has threatened to launch a series of agitations to protest against the award of only five more mouzas to the GTA by the committee headed by Mr Sen. It has also decided to boycott the proposed elections to the GTA. Given Darjeeling’s recent history of political turmoil and violence, all these are disconcerting signals. But Darjeeling has also been witness to the failure of the politics of violence. No matter how long they take or how much they deliver, talks alone hold out hopes for Darjeeling.

    steep climb
     

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