GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Set-up too powerful to last only a year – Extension whiff in interim talks – making the transition as gentle and as slow as possible ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Sept. 8: The Centre wants the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills to be extended till 2012 and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is not averse to the idea, sources said a day after the official-level tripartite talks in Delhi.
The Bimal Gurung-led Morcha, the sources said, realises that its efforts to make the interim authority powerful will be wasted if it lasts only for a year.
The Centre had proposed the extension of the new arrangement till December 31, 2012, at yesterday’s meeting as it believes that a delay in inking the settlement leaves little time to administer the new body.
“The Centre is of the opinion that it will hardly serve any purpose if the interim set-up is functional till December 31, 2011. It believes that the set-up is turning out to be powerful with the transfer of almost all the subjects, except home and judiciary, and that it should be tried for two years,” a source said.
The Morcha, too, is warming up to the proposal. Sources in the know of things said even though a final decision was likely to be conveyed during the political round, it was merely a matter of time before the party accepts the proposal, unless there is massive opposition in the hills.
“If things go fine, the new set-up is likely to be functional only by the end of December or January. The Morcha realises that all its efforts to make the interim set-up powerful will be a waste if the authority is to be made defunct within a year,” said the source.
Till yesterday, the Centre had proposed the tenure of the interim set-up to be valid till December 31, 2011.
“The Centre was always thinking of a two-year arrangement as it was confident that the set-up would be made functional by the beginning of 2010. But this did not happen,” the source added. The negotiations with the Morcha in the form of tripartite talks had started in 2008.
Although the state wants the set-up to be extended for five years, the Centre is aware that the Morcha will not accept such a long tenure.
Observers believe that the Centre is also aware of the Morcha’s compulsion. An interim settlement with too long a tenure could backfire in the hills and jeopardise the entire talks process.
“The cinchona plantation will be transferred and this is one industry which is in tatters. The biggest public sector undertaking is incurring a loss of Rs 28 crore annually and lot of efforts needs to be put in to revive this industry by the interim set-up if any concrete results are to be seen. With a one-year timeline, the new body will not be able to do anything much,” said an observer.
Dawa Sherpa, president of the Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League, however, said there was nothing new in the agreement reached yesterday. ”Since nothing has come out of the meeting, we have nothing to comment,” he said.
The CPRM – the party considered to have the second largest base in the hills after the Morcha—maintained that the Centre, state and the Morcha were trying to dilute the real issue of statehood by prolonging the talks.
“An attempt is on to delay and then dilute the real issue of Gorkhaland. They are simply trying to tire the hill people and divert their attention. There is much confusion and after every meeting they are reaching a settlement on only one or two points,” said R.B. Rai, general secretary of the CPRM. “Soon the elections will be held in Bengal and the entire issue will then be handed over to a new government and everything will be back to square one.”
MEANWHILE FROM THE BRIEFS SECTION
Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh on Wednesday said the interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills should be a nominated body, echoing what the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha has said.
Before leaving for Delhi after a week-long stay in Darjeeling and Siliguri, the BJP leader said: “Considering the ongoing census and the coming Assembly polls, it is not justified to hold another election to form the proposed interim arrangement in the hills. So far as I know, the interim set-up is likely to exist till 2012 and it should be formed with nominated members and not the elected ones.”
Singh, however, said representations of different political parties with presence in the hills, women and members of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe categories should be ensured in the set-up.
The MP, however, did not feel the need to invite all political parties to the tripartite dialogues. “We feel the state government itself represents all the other parties and don’t feel it necessary that they should be called to the talks, along with the Morcha,” Singh said at the Siliguri Journalists’ Club.
On the proposal to carve a separate state out of Bengal, the BJP leader said he was in favour of smaller states. “In my opinion, it is possible to form a state even with the three hill subdivisions and the contiguous areas of the Terai and the Dooars.”
Tag parts of Terai, Dooars to Darjeeling authority: GJM – no communal tensions necessary in Gorkhaland RA ?!!
From The Hindu Special Correspondent
KOLKATA, September 8, 2010: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha on Tuesday said if peace was to be ensured, parts of the Terai and Dooars in the plains of north Bengal should be brought within the territorial jurisdiction of the interim authority proposed for the Darjeeling hills.
“We want peace, so do the State government and the Centre. For that pockets in the Terai and Dooars, which have a predominantly Gorkha population, will have to be brought under the proposed authority,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said over telephone from New Delhi.
He was speaking to The Hindu, after the eighth round of tripartite talks among the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM to sort out issues on the setting up of the interim authority. The GJM delegation comprised seven members.
“Our demand is reasonable and logical. We hope it is appreciated and accepted by the other parties for the sake of peace,” Mr. Giri said even as he described the meeting, held at the Secretary-level, as “good and fruitful.”
Both the Centre and the State government had so far indicated that they were against the inclusion of areas beyond the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district in the interim authority.
“We expect future tripartite talks to be more positive as the dialogue process moves forward. The next round of Secretary-level tripartite talks has been scheduled for September 30,” Mr. Giri said.
The issue of territorial jurisdiction could, however, be finally resolved only at political-level discussions. These discussions were to have followed Tuesday’s talks but were now deferred. “But we expect arriving at a solution of matters related to the authority without much delay,” Mr. Giri said.
Composition of authority
Other outstanding issues that need to be resolved related to the composition of the interim authority. While the State government was keen that members be elected, the GJM insists on nomination. For an “interim” body, the GJM did not see the need for elections. “There were other issues that were raised by us concerning certain powers to be devolved to the interim body to which both the Centre and the State were agreeable,” he said.
More exits on tribal horizon – the crumbling Bengal consensus ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Sept. 8: Some more leaders of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad’s Dooars unit are expected to resign in the next few days to protest the “autocratic functioning” of the organisation.
However, sources in the tribal outfit said the urge to join mainstream politics and contest elections were the real reasons why the leaders might desert the Parishad.
Rajesh Lakra, the secretary of the Dooars-Terai regional unit of the Parishad, already resigned from the outfit yesterday, saying he was tired of the “war of statements” among the top brass.
Today. more than five leaders told The Telegraph that they would follow suit. Till such time they put in their papers, they refused to go public about it.
“There is no democracy in the regional unit and we feel it is better to walk out of the Parishad. Despite the presence of a constitution, nothing is being followed and only a handful is running the show,” one of the dissenting leaders said.
“At least seven leaders of the regional unit have decided to resign in few days.” The resignations, if they really happen, would mean that nearly one-fourth of the Dooars Terai unit — there are 31 members — are moving out of the Parishad.
The formation of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) by a breakway faction of the Parishad has also spurred the leaders to think of resigning.
“In the past two years, the Parishad gained the support of tribals fast by taking up their causes and forming the tea trade union. But soon there was a slackness,” a senior leader said.
“Neither the state nor the Centre are listening to their demands like Sixth Schedule status for the Dooars.”
Not only that, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders, despite correspondences and meetings, do not seem to be interested in carrying out talks with the tribal outfit.
Instead, the Morcha is still insisting that only the Gorkha-dominated areas of the Terai and the Dooars should be included in the hill set-up.
These factors, the leader said, may prompt the Parishad members to step down. “Further, the formation of the PPP, which plans to field candidates in the next Assembly elections, has left some Parishad leaders thoughtful. The unity of the tribals might help them with favourable results especially when established political parties like the CPM, Congress and the RSP are losing their support base in the tea gardens,” a tribal leader said.
The observation was corroborated by the statement of Kiran Kalindi, the PPP president, who said that former Parishad leaders were welcome.
“We will field candidates in a number of seats in the Assembly elections and the entry of ex-Parishad leaders would only strengthen our party,” he said.
Glare on racket in poll card haul – the voting corruption still rampant, no wonder the CPM want elections just after the GRA ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Raiganj, Sept. 8: The arrest of a youth with two voter identity cards and 12 application forms for cellphone SIM has exposed the existence of a racket that is suspected to be thriving in North Dinajpur district with help from a section of poll personnel.
Mujam Ali, a second-year student of Raiganj College and a resident of Pradhanpara in Hemtabad block, was picked up from Bidrohi More here on Monday night. Chief judicial magistrate Rajiv Kumar Saha granted him bail yesterday. Police sources said they did not oppose the bail plea because they did not have “sufficient evidence of criminal conspiracy” against him.
North Dinajpur district police chief Milon Das said the two voter cards, which were issued by the block election office, bore the same photographs and addresses but different names. The youth had confessed that he wanted to procure the SIM cards for some “specific purposes”. Police sources said a racket was at work procuring genuine voters’ card for fake identities with the help of a section of employees at the block election cell.
District magistrate Sunil Dandapat said: “An inquiry has been started. Those who are guilty will be punished.”