GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Governor at Center’s door on peace mission for hills – all other political developments come ‘next and immediately’, or will everything be shelved ‘again’ once peace has temporarily been achieved to unwittingly let the rot continue ?!!
From The Times of India
KOLKATA, Jun 10, 2010, 04.43am IST, TNN: Governor M K Narayanan has rushed to Delhi for getting the Centre’s help restore peace in the Darjeeling Hills.
Sources said Narayanan is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and seek more CRPF personnel in the Hills, so that the administration could get on with restoring normality. The governor will also submit a first-hand report of the situation to the Centre.
“It’s obvious that the governor wants steps to be taken immediately to restore democracy in Darjeeling. He left for Delhi immediately after his return from Darjeeling,” said a senior official at Writers’ Buildings.
The governor, sources said, has consulted chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee before he left for Delhi.
On Tuesday, the governor returned from Darjeeling after a prolonged visit to the Hills since May 16. He was there when Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League (ABGL) president Madan Tamag was killed on May 21.
Four days before he was murdered, Tamang had met the governor and complained to him about the absence of democracy in the Hills.
Hours after the murder, Narayanan issued a statement that was stronger than the comments of the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government, which has been handling the Darjeeling situation rather cautiously.
In his statement, the governor referred to the point raised by the slain leader, saying, “The fatal attack on him can only be regarded as an attack on democratic forces. This state of affairs will not be allowed to continue.”
On Monday, the day before he was about to leave the Hills, the governor met senior administrative officials of the region. District magistrate Surendra Gupta is said to have submitted a report to him to corroborate the state government’s views that the situation wasn’t ripe for tripartite talks in Delhi.
Tamang’s widow, Bharati, met the governor demanding a CBI inquiry into her husband’s assassination. She also pleaded with him to look into the worsening law and order situation in the Hills.
During his stay, the governor met various people and took stock of the situation. “He didn’t want to waste any time after his return and rushed to Delhi to see if he could do anything to restore peace in Darjeeling,” said the official at Writers’.
The ministry of home affairs, meanwhile, already has a report from central interlocutor for tripartite talks Vijay Madan. On May 26, Madan met GJM chief Bimal Gurung to take forward the process for the next round of tripartite talks.
According to sources, Gurung had expressed his keenness to attend the talks that were originally scheduled for the last week of May.
Tribals differ in public – ask for more time to reconsider GJM’s GAP proposal and whether or not to continue to stay under the subjugation of Bengal ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, June 9: The difference of opinion in the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad (ABAVP) over supporting the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha came to the fore today with the state leaders refusing to back the hill party on its statehood agitation and the regional leadership wanting time to decide on the matter.
Nearly 30,000 Parishad supporters from the Dooars and the Terai attended a public meeting in Banarhat, around 75km from here in Jalpaiguri district, to mark the 110th death anniversary of tribal icon Birsa Munda.
At the meeting, the outfit’s state leaders iterated that under no circumstances would they support the Morcha for the Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh, the new name for the state the hill party wants.
“The state committee does not find rationale behind the Morcha’s stand. Who are they to include us in their separate state or interim set-up and ask us to sit for talks with them?” said Birsa Tirkey, the state president of the Parishad. “If the state or the Centre had given us a proposal, we could have given it a thought.
Tirkey said given the tribal majority in the Terai and the Dooars, an autonomous body with special status, like the Sixth Schedule, could be formed. “This will help the socio-economic development of the tribal population in north Bengal.”
John Barla, the president of the Dooars-Terai Regional Unit of the Parishad, however, spoke on a different note. “The issue is local and we need some more days to decide on the proposal mooted by the Morcha,” he said.
Observers believe that the regional leaders’ insistence on more time confirmed a difference of opinion in the tribal outfit.
Tirkey, who had earlier warned Raju Bara, the party’s Kalchini block secretary and a state committee member, of action for speaking in favour of the Morcha, today evaded a reply on punishing him. “It (Bara’s earlier comments of supporting the Morcha for development) was his personal opinion and does not reflect the Parishad’s stand,” Tirkey said.
MEANWHILE IN DARJEELING (from the earlier Madan Tamang murder investigation report)
Challenge to Morcha, second in seven days
In Darjeeling, the ABGL said it would hold the public meeting on Friday at the Clubside motor stand where Tamang was murdered last month, indicating the party’s determination to remain the most vocal opposition force in the hills.
The rally will be held close on the heels of an ABGL demonstration in front of Darjeeling police station on Monday, a move that was more symbolic of opposition parties regrouping themselves than any show of numerical strength. “We will not be browbeaten into stopping our political activities,” said Laxman Pradhan, the district secretary of the ABGL, at a media conference. “We want the arrest of Madan Tamang’s killers who are all Morcha men.”
The (earlier Bengal CID) police claim comes on a day the slain leader’s outfit, the ABGL, announced it’s intention to hold a meeting at the murder spot on Friday to push ahead with its campaign against the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
After the Friday meeting, the ABGL supporters will take out a procession through town that will culminate at Darjeeling sadar police station where they will demand the arrest of Tamang’s killers.
On Monday, too, the ABGL supporters had gheraoed the police station on the same demand and made it clear that it would carry on with its activities despite Tamang’s death.
The ABGL has also voiced its opposition to the next round of scheduled tripartite meeting on the interim set-up in the hills, saying that the talks would be “meaningless” until peace and democracy are restored.
Tamang’s party is likely to write to the Centre expressing its opinion. It will also demand an all-party meeting to discuss the “prevailing situation” in the Darjeeling hills. “Holding tripartite talks would be meaningless until peace and democracy are restored in the hills. We will write to the Centre demanding an all-party meeting to discuss the prevailing situation in the hills,” said Pradhan.
After Tamang was hacked to death on May 21 just before he was to address a public meeting, not only the ABGL, but other opposition parties in the hills also had said the priority was to restore democracy and maintain peace. “Before the talks are held, those accused in the murder of our leader, along with the masterminds, should be arrested,” said Pradhan.
The Morcha with whom the Centre and the state are holding the talks, has been saying that the prerogative of holding the tripartite meeting lay with the Union government and not with the state.
The ABGL has also announced that it is against schoolchildren participating in political parties.
“Students are being told to attend rallies called by political parties. This must come to an end and we will write to the various heads of schools, appealing them to stop sending children to political meetings. Even the Supreme Court has issued a directive against school students attending political meetings,” said Pradhan.
AND FROM JALPAIGURI
GNLF plea for chief – “please pick up the baby you earlier threw out with the bathwater” ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, June 9: GNLF leaders have decided to request party president Subash Ghisingh to champion the cause of Gorkhaland again, as they fear that his insistence on Sixth Schedule status for the Darjeeling hills will further alienate the supporters.
“I will meet the party president (Ghisingh) and request him to change his stand. As of late, he has been advocating Sixth Schedule for the hills. Most of our party leaders and supporters are against the hills being brought under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. They are ready to spearhead the movement on Gorkhaland and are feeling disappointed as the president is saying the opposite,” said Rajen Mukhia, the convener of the Terai branch committee of the GNLF, today. “We feel that such stand is affecting the support base of the party.”
GNLF sources said many leaders and supporters were annoyed with Ghisingh’s call for Sixth Schedule status.
Dawa Pakhrin, the former Kalimpong branch president, had on Sunday come out in the open to criticize Ghisingh.
“Our president is in favour of Sixth Schedule. I believe that he has shifted his focus from the movement for separate state….but I cannot choose his path as 1,200 supporters of the GNLF were martyred during the agitation for Gorkhaland,” Pakhrin had said.
Echoing Pakhrin, Mukhia said: “I will categorically tell the president that under no circumstances will we settle for anything less than a separate state. So, it is imperative that he listens to workers and changes his stance.”
After the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had been formed in 2007, the GNLF faced resistance and Ghisingh was shunted out of the hills . For the past two years, he has been living in a rented house in Jalpaiguri. Rarely does he attend party programmes and has restrained the members from carrying out political activities.
“We had approached the president on several occasions and asked him to permit political activities, particularly at a time when the Morcha is fast losing its support,” a GNLF leader said. “But his stand and silence have only left workers disgruntled.”
MEANWHILE FROM THE PLAINS BELOW DARJEELING
Rebellion in Cong rank over top slot – Malda and Cooch Behar grapple with dissent, slur – ripe for expanding the “consensus issue” ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malda, June 9: The fractured verdict in the Englishbazar municipality polls has not only created problems for the district Congress which has to woo Trinamul to form the board, but has also showed signs of rebellion in the party over the choice of the chairperson.
A section of the 10 Congress councillors is against Krishnendu Chowdhury, the Englishbazar MLA, being appointed the chairperson. Last night, district Congress president and South Malda MP Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury had called the councillors to his Kotwali residence to thrash out the issue, but failed. His brother and the Sujapur MLA of the party, Abu Naser Khan Chowdhury, was also present at the meeting.
The absence of two councillors, Anju Tewari and Sarbari Saha, from the meeting spoke volumes. Two of the remaining eight councillors also refused to accept Chowdhury, party insiders said.
Abu Hashem today said the new civic board would be formed with the Trinamul Congress, which has won four seats in the 25-ward municipality. “Our candidate will be the chairperson and they can have their choice of the deputy chairperson,” he said.
Asked about the dissent within his own party, Abu Hashem admitted that there was a difference of opinion. “The district Congress will not take any decision that will split the party. We had never said officially that Krishnendu would be the chairperson,” he said.
A senior Congress leader said Ashis Kundu, who won from Ward 18, had been visiting Kotwali frequently. “Ashis has made a space for himself and Kotwali has a soft corner for him. Kotwali has told Krishnendu to settle for the post of party leader in the civic board,” he said.
The district Trinamul is not only opposed to Chowdhury as chairperson, but has also laid claim to the post. “We have received a letter from the district Congress (to join the board) and it has been forwarded to our general-secretary, Mukul Roy. But we want the chairperson’s post,” said party leader Babla Sarkar.
Finger at Trinamul for graft leaflets – the Bengal political “culture of corruption” continues ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Cooch Behar, June 9: Leaflets accusing the outgoing chairperson of the Cooch Behar municipality of misappropriating civic funds were found strewn around town today with the needle of suspicion pointing at a section of Trinamul Congress leaders.
The leaflets urged the residents not to agree to have Biren Kundu of the Congress as chairperson for the fourth term.
Kundu, the district Congress president, has been the chairperson of the municipality for 15 years running. While no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the leaflets, Kundu hinted that it was the handiwork of a section of the district Trinamul.
The Congress that has won from eight wards of the 20 is set to form the board with Kundu at its helm, and with support from the three Trinamul councillors. “There is a deep-rooted conspiracy behind the leaflets. I know who all are behind this,” Kundu said. But he added the district Trinamul has been invited to join the board.
District Trinamul president Rabindranath Ghosh denied his party’s role in the leaflet distribution. “I think it is the handiwork of the CPM and the Forward Bloc to try and stop the formation of an anti-Left alliance. We are waiting for our state leadership to give the green light to join the Congress in the civic body,” he said.
Ghosh might be denying the charges but only recently had Trinamul councillor Ellora Singh objected to Kundu’s nomination to the top civic slot. “There has been a long-standing rift between Kundu and the former president of the district Seva Dal, Bhushan Singh, who had left the Congress and contested on a Trinamul ticket from Ward 3 this time and lost,” said a Congress insider.
Singh’s daughter, Ellora, had contested from Ward 4 and won. Trinamul sources said soon after the declaration of results, Singh had said his daughter would not support Kundu’s chairmanship.
Today, Singh said Trinamul would not support the Congress if Kundu was made the chairperson. “We will, however, go by what Mamata Banerjee decides,” he said.