FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Darjeeling, April 29: The next round of political-level talks between the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has been postponed to the end of May because of “important issues” presently under discussion in Parliament.
If the Union home ministry had stuck to the earlier deadline of May 14 — that had been set for the second round of political talks — there would have been no time for official-level discussion necessary as a precursor to the tripartite talks.
The last tripartite talks was held in Delhi on March 18. (First ‘Political Level Tripartite’ Talks ?!!)
Lt Gen. (retd) Vijay Madan, the interlocutor appointed by the Centre, in an interaction with The Telegraph, said over the phone from Delhi: “One more round of official-level talks is needed to sort out some contentious issues. Since Parliament is in session till May 7, the official-level talks will be held soon after on a mutually agreed date.”
Madan admitted that the political-level talks would in that case be pushed back by a few days. It could take place on May 25 but the date has not yet been fixed.
“Some very important issues are being discussed in Parliament… But we do not want to undermine the Gorkhaland issue. It is of much importance and the home ministry wants to fully focus on it and this can be done only after the session is over in Parliament,” said Madan.
After the March 18 tripartite talks, the Morcha participated in two more rounds of dialogue, one at the bureaucratic-level on March 29. The last meeting was with home minister P. Chidambaram on April 9. However, with the Morcha sticking to its stand to include the Nepali-dominated areas of the Dooars and the Terai in the proposed interim set-up and the state and the Centre opposed to the idea, the talks had not progressed much.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung has been currently addressing a series of meetings across the Darjeeling hills to spread the message that the party will not accept a set-up without the territories (read Dooars, Terai) it wants. Gurung had also conveyed the same message to Madan during their meeting at Dudhia in Kalimpong last week. Asked about the stalemate, Madan said: “My job is only to listen to the views of all parties concerned. If I have any view I can only express it before the home ministry. Various views are being attributed to me by the media but I have only once spoken on record recently.”
By “on record” Madan was referring to his conversation with The Telegraph where he had said the tripartite meetings would only involve the representatives of the Morcha, state and the central government. “The clarification was needed as it was getting crowded (with demands to be included in the talks),” he said.
The reference was to the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad that had demanded that the next round of tripartite talks should include the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes so that the views of the tribals living in the Dooars and Terai could be aired at the meeting.
During the first round of political talks, the Centre was represented by the minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken and the Trinamul Congress minister of state for health Dinesh Trivedi. Siliguri MLA and municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya and health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra had represented the state.
Cong and Trinamul to clash in 11 seats – as the Left is demoralised ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, April 29: The Congress today announced candidates for all the 25 wards of the Jalpaiguri municipality, further alienating the Trinamul Congress that stuck to its demand for 11 seats.
As Trinamul has also declared that its 11 candidates will file nominations tomorrow, there is no room for an alliance.
“The only option left for the two parties is to reach a consensus in the next few days and withdraw the nominations accordingly by May 6 to ensure that there is only one candidate of either Trinamul or the Congress in each seat,” said a political observer.
Jalpaiguri district Congress president Biswaranjan Sarkar, along with the chairman of the civic body, Mohan Bose, and other leaders, announced the candidates’ list this afternoon. While 23 candidates will be contesting on the Congress symbol, the rest will be Independents backed by the party. They will be fielded in Wards 11 and 13.
“We had earnestly tried to clinch an electoral pact with Trinamul, but they kept on insisting that 11 seats be kept aside for them,” said Sarkar. “We had little option other than announcing the names for all the seats. We will be fielding Independents in Wards 11 and 13 based on the feedback we had received from the residents. All our candidates will file their nominations tomorrow.”
Chandan Bhowmik, the district secretary-general of Trinamul, while announcing the candidates, including four women, said: “We want to make it clear that Trinamul has a support base and at the same time, it is interested in forging an alliance with the Congress. That is why we have refrained from fielding candidates in all the seats.”
The observer said the Congress would face troubles in the other 14 wards also, though Trinamul has not fielded candidates in those seats. “It is not that the Congress candidates in the remaining wards can be sure of getting votes from Trinamul supporters as there will be an underlying resentment if no alliance is formed,” he said.
Allies to go it alone in Malda civic polls – Lists out in Jalpaiguri, withdrawal of candidates only way to keep alliance intact – ‘SET-UP to include Malda also for ‘National Security Reasons’ ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, April 29: The alliance between the Trinamul Congress and the Congress for the May 30 elections to Englishbazar and Old Malda municipalities has virtually gone haywire with both the parties sticking to their respective stands.
The leaders of both the parties today made it clear that they would go to the polls independent of the other.
Trinamul that has eight councillors in the Englishbazar municipality — the 25-member board is run by a Trinamul-Congress-BJP combine — has demanded 15 seats, but the Congress (having four now) is in no mood to spare more than five to six.
Trinamul’s Malda district president Goutam Chakraborty said at a media conference that the party would not succumb to the Congress’s pressure. He claimed that his party was “powerful enough in the district to fight the elections alone”.
Chakraborty defended the party’s demand for 15 wards since they have eight councillors in the present board as against the Congress’s four. The party has also asked for six seats in Old Malda. He said he had “clear instructions” from party chief Mamata Banerjee on not to compromise.
Congress MLA from Englishbazar Krishnendu Chowdhury, however, described the Trinamul demand as “absurd”.
“Trinamul does not have any foothold in the district. It has been demanding seats where the Congress is very strong. How can we accept such absurd demands?” Chowdhury said.
“We can at best offer five or six seats to them in Englishbazar and two or three seats in Old Malda,” the Congress leader said.
The 18-seat Old Malda municipality — one ward has been added this year — is presently run by the Left Front with 13 councillors against the BJP’s four.
Both the Congress and Trinamul have declared that they would start filing nominations from tomorrow. However, they hinted that negotiations might continue till May 6, the last date for withdrawing candidature.
But political observers believe that with both sides remaining adamant, an alliance is a remote possibility.
Civic protest – time to appease the Left Front Students in Siliguri, maybe not ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, April 29: The DYFI today submitted a memorandum to the district magistrate of Darjeeling, demanding the immediate transfer of the subdivisional officer of Siliguri, while its parent body, the CPM, asked the mayor to step down as she was elected to the post with Left support.
This morning, about 300 DYFI supporters shouted slogans against SDO Rajat Saini on his office premises, accusing him of ordering the lathicharge to disperse CPM members picketing in front of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation during the 12-hour Left strike on Tuesday. They also took out a rally from Hill Cart Road to the SDO office before submitting the memorandum to the additional district magistrate of Siliguri.
“We demand steps against the SDO and N.C. Das, the police inspector who led the lathicharge, and a thorough inquiry on the attack on our supporters and councillors,” said Shankar Ghosh, the Darjeeling district DYFI secretary.
Tapan Burman, the ADM of Siliguri, said: “I will forward it to the DM. I have also assured them of an inquiry.”
State committee member of the CPM Jibesh Sarkar said they had extended support to mayor Gangotri Dutta after a request from the Congress. “On March 30, the present Congress-led board joined hands with the Trinamul Congress. Now we demand that she should resign on ethical ground and get re-elected.”
HOT OFF THE WEB: Ashok Bhattarcharya’s unofficial visit to Sikkim remains suspicious
From Voice of Sikkim
(yet to be edited – but good, thorough reporting)
29 April, Gangtok: West Bengal Minister for Municipal Affairs and Urban Development, and Town and Country Planning Ashok Bhattarcharya duo CPI-M leader from North Bengal who is on 3 days visit to Sikkim since 28 April seems to create a big mystery in Sikkim’s political arena.
While talking to the Minister over his sudden visit to Sikkim, he denied to have come as an official trip but latter from one of the source it was hinted his visit to Sikkim was under willingness of Chief Minister Buddhadev Bharracharya and Chief Minister Dr Pawan Chamling.
Today he visited Nathu-La in a day, saying that he is tired from a journey denied to give any statement to press, he assured to give his statement on 30 April. On 30 April Bhattacharya is returning back to West Bengal as told to press.
The Sikkim Unit Bharatiya Janta Party BJP President Padam Chettri who has already commented Bhattacharya visit to Sikkim is a big conspiracy and intention to distract Gorkhaland issue.
On other hand a strange thing popped out that CPI-M Sikkim Unit is not at all aware of the leader’s visit to Sikkim, as told by Anajan Updhayay and Balram Adhikari CPI-M leaders Sikkim Unit.
Having asked to the Secretary of Sikkim Unit CPI-M over the visit. Mr Adhikari made a clean chit about not being informed about the visit officially.
The mystery gallops all way around like, if the minister’s visit was a private one then why was a government all prepared for security as soon he arrived to Sikkim.
Minister is said to have stayed at capital’s renowned Hotel during his Sikkim visit. BJP throttled that Poor people’s party CPI-M leader who is come to Sikkim all of sudden is not a big issue but big issue is expense of Hotel, the said overnight stay in the hotel costs Rs 13,000 per night which itself unveils the strategy of leader of Poor People’s Party CPI-M.
Political arena in the state have started to discuss the issue from all corners gossiping Chamling-Bhattacharya silent gestures but the biggest suspense is that this is the first visit of Bhattachary to Sikkim in 2010.
Earlier he visited to Sikkim on 2008, during that time Chief Minister had slammed him in vocal. Yet the old, the dice may have changed until now but inside political atmosphere of Sikkim a new question have started to float in everyone’s mind with weried speculations.