GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS: Morcha links territory to election nod – now wonder what the Bengal reaction will be like, to agree or disagree in a non-parochial democracy ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Sept. 9: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it was ready for elections to the proposed interim set-up for the Darjeeling hills if the Dooars and the Terai were included in the new arrangement.
“We have no problem with elections to the set-up, provided it has jurisdiction over the entire Darjeeling hills, Siliguri, Terai and Gorkha-dominated areas of the Dooars,” said Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the media and publicity secretary of the Morcha. “We have demanded that 196 mouzas (a mouza is a cluster of areas identified by the state land and land reforms department) of the Dooars and 65 mouzas of the Terai, including Siliguri, be made part of the territory to be under the set-up.”
Chhetri also said Morcha president Bimal Gurung had decided that no front line leader of the party would be at the helm of affairs in the interim authority.
“The party will, however, select the people who will be in charge of the authority in case it is formed through nomination,” Chhetri told journalists at the Bagdogra airport upon his return from Delhi.
As tripartite talks on the formation of the interim set-up progressed, the Darjeeling district CPM had demanded that the authority be run by elected representatives and not by nominated people. But the Morcha was adamant that a nominated body should rule the interim set-up and Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri had opposed the CPM demand even before departing for the tripartite meeting in Delhi on Monday.
Although Chhetri did not divulge more, political observers said his comments indicated that in case the set-up had jurisdiction over only the three hill subdivisions, as had been insisted by the Centre and the state government, the Morcha would oppose elections and settle for a nominated body comprising the lesser known leaders of the party.
Darjeeling MP and BJP leader Jaswant Singh also supported the Morcha’s call for a nominated body to run the authority and said representatives of all political parties in the hills should be included in the set-up.
Asked about Jaswant’s pitch for the presence of all parties in the interim arrangement, Chhetri said: “I don’t know in what context he made such a comment. All I can say is that we are leading a movement for a separate state in the hills and we will decide who will be included in the set-up.”
GJMM rejects Jaswant offer – the nature of brilliant politics, Bengal now caught between a rock and a hard place, three tier elections with territory or …. ?!!
From The Statesman
SILIGURI, 9 SEPT, 2010: The Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha today rejected the Darjeeling MP Mr Jaswant Singh’s counsel to nominate members to the proposed interim council from all the political parties with presence in the hills and in accordance with the Reservation policy prevailing in the country.
Visibly embarrassed, the GJMM media secretary, Dr Harka Bahadur Chhetri said in Siliguri on return from New Delhi today that Mr Singh had not been authorised by the party to comment on crucial policy matters. “A BJP veteran, he seems unaware of the stand my party has taken on the matter. What he said is his personal stand and maybe, it is the stand of the party he belongs to,” Dr Chhetri said.
Mr Singh’s comment crated flutters in the political circles yesterday when he categorically stated that the nominated council should involve not just the political parties with presence in the hills but all socio-economic categories listed in the Reservation schedule including the SC, ST, OBC and the women.
Rejecting Mr Singh’s assertions, Dr Chhetri said that being the true representative of the hill populace his party should have the right to nominate members to the proposed interim council. “None from the party central committee would be nominated. We would remain absorbed in carrying on with the statehood struggle as the interim council being envisaged for the hills would be a mere revised version of the much-hated Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council,” he said.
He further said that his party was ready to support elections provided the Centre and the state government agreed to incorporate Terai and the Dooars within the geographical contour of the interim council. “We would go for elections tomorrow if the Centre and state accept our boundary demands. We have demanded 64 moujas spread over the Terai and the Dooars apart from 96 moujas in the hills where the Gokha community is in a demographic majority,” Dr Chhetri added.
Asked why the principal hill-based party was fighting shy of elections, the GJMM leader said that his party would remain focused on the territorial aspirations of the Gorkha people. “Realising these long- suppressed aspirations are more important than contesting elections,” he said.
Charging fusillades at the state government, Dr Chettri said that the Marxists looked determined to stall the council – formation process. “Adept in the divide and rule stratagem, they are bent on driving wedge amongst different sections of the hill people,” he said.
GJM demands resignation of Home Sec – or Bengal Home Minister ?!! should have requested the CBI to handle the case in the first place, but had to cover up evidence for parochial political profit ?!!
From India Blooms News Service
Siliguri (West Bengal), Sept 9, 2010 (IBNS): The Grokha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) on Thursday demanded resignation of West Bengal Home Secretary Samar Ghosh holding him responsible for “disappearance” of party leader Nickol Tamang from Criminal Investigation Department’s custody last month.
“We have reasons to believe that Nickol is dead. And he died in the CID custody in Siliguri,” GJM’s spokesman Harka Bahadur Chettri told reporters after arriving here from New Delhi.
Forty-seven-year-old Nickol Tamang, the prime suspect in the killing of All India Gorkha League president Madan Tamang in Darjeeling on May 21, was arrested on August 16 and had been in the CID custody by a Darjeeling court order.
Nickol, who was also GJM’s central committee member, has been mssing since August 22, but the CID claimed the suspect fled from its custody at Pintail village in Siliguri.
The GJM said since Nickol was in the CID custody the state home secretary must be made answerable in the “disappearance” of him and he must resign at first hand.
Echoing BJP leader and Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh’s demand for an inquiry by the Criminal Bureau Investigation (CBI) on Nickol’s disappearance, Chettri said the “GJM’s earlier demand still stand.”
Singh on Wednesday called for an investigation by the Central agency and said “truth will come out about Nickol.”
The GJM members, who went to New Delhi for September 7 tripartite talk, returned here and said the discussion was going on the track.
They said the setting up of a proposed Gorkha Regional Authority in Darjeeling, an interim set up, will take some more time as “there are some disputes.”
“We want the interim set up will have 55 members body but the state and centre want to have only 42. Our demand the body should be a nominated one but they want an elected one,” Chettri said.
(Our special news correspondent adds: Dr Chettri was entirely misquoted on this report and that Dr Chettri had called for the resignation of the Bengal Home Minister and not the Home Secretary Samar Ghosh.)
After 1 exit, three tribal leaders give up posts – in a fast crumbling Bengal consensus ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Jaigaon/Siliguri, Sept. 9: Three more office-bearers of the Dooars Terai Regional Unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today resigned from their posts to protest the alleged autocratic functioning of the outfit’s leadership in the plains.
The unit’s secretary Sanjiban Kuzur, adviser Robin Baghowar and a member of the party’s state and regional committees Sanchita Bara handed over their resignation letters to the Parishad’s state president Tez Kumar Toppo in Malbazar this afternoon.
The senior leaders quitting their posts is a major blow to the Parishad which was already reeling from the resignation of the unit’s secretary Rajesh Lakra on Tuesday.
The Telegraph had reported yesterday that at least five leaders would follow in Lakra’s footsteps.
In their resignations, the three leaders expressed anguish at the style of functioning of the unit and alleged that the laid down norms of the Parishad were being violated by some leaders heading the outfit.
“When a leader and social worker like Rajesh Lakra has stepped down from his post, there is no question of us remaining. So, we resigned today,” said Kuzur. “There is no democracy in the unit and some leaders are working according to their whims and wishes, without thinking of the well-being of the tribal populace which stands behind them.”
Kuzur brushed aside Parishad leadership’s claim that they were deserting the organisation to join the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and contest the coming Assembly polls. “There is no question of joining the PPP. Considering the instability in the Parishad, we had no other option but to submit the resignations as we cannot simply sit idle and watch these people ruin the organisation,” he said.
Tezkumar Toppo, the state secretary of the Parishad, said the three leaders had fallen prey to the “lure of the PPP”. “We don’t think that their absence will have any impact on the Parishad.”
However, chairman of the Parishad-backed Progressive Tea Workers’ Union Shukra Munda said he would try to get back Lakra and the other three leaders. “They are important for our organisation and we will soon meet them to resolve the problem,” he said.
Parishad leaders hinted that certain changes would be effected in the regional unit during the state committee meeting in Malbazar on Saturday. “The exit of three-four leaders has no impact on the Parishad so far. But if the trend continues, there is no doubt it will create problems for the outfit,” said a leader. “We hope the state committee will take some decisions to ensure that the regional unit functions at its best.”
7-day deadline to chalk out tea wage draft – Minimum pay warning for garden managements – so squeezing and arm-twisting the Gardens for political profit when the mandate signed earlier was till next year ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Sept. 9: The state government has asked tea garden managements to submit within seven days a fresh draft on an interim wage hike after the proposal to pay a one-time “recoverable allowance” of Rs 400 to each worker was summarily rejected by the trade unions.
The CPM-led government, which has its eyes on the Assembly polls next year, also warned the garden managements that failure to draw up the new pay structure for the 3 lakh tea workers in the state would compel it to announce a minimum wage for the sector.
Earlier, the planters had said the tea industry was under extreme pressure from the government to accept the workers’ demand for interim wage hike although the agreement on salary expires only next year.
The government set the deadline at a meeting attended by managements and trade unions in Calcutta today. The meeting was chaired by labour minister Anadi Sahu.
Sources said Sahu had proposed that the managements increase the wage to Rs 100 per day from the existing Rs 67. “The management expressed its inability to go in for a wage revision as an earlier settlement is valid till March 31, 2011,” a source said. Instead, the managements proposed to pay a recoverable allowance of Rs 400 to each worker. “Recoverable allowance means that the workers would have to pay back this amount after a mutually accepted date,” said a representative of the planters.
Following the stalemate, the source said, Sahu asked the managements to draw up a fresh proposal on the interim wage revision, failing which the government would start the process of implementing the minimum wage for tea garden workers. “The minister said he would visit Siliguri on September 16 to hold another round of discussions,” said Samir Roy, the convener of the Defence Committee for Plantation Workers’ Right, an umbrella association of labour unions.
“We have demanded that the managements pay a need-based minimum wage along with dearness allowance and variable dearness allowance to the workers. These allowances were there until the Left come into power,” Roy told The Telegraph over the phone from Calcutta.
Need-based minimum wage essentially means a salary structure worked out taking into consideration the All India Consumer Price Index. One of the factors that determine the minimum wage is the amount spent by a worker on food containing 2,700 calories per day.
Trilok Roka, adviser to the Darjeeling Terai Dooars Plantation Labour Union, an affiliate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, said: “Whatever decision the state takes, the workers have to get an interim relief to tide over the inflation till the new wage deal is worked out after the expiry of the current agreement on March 31, 2011.”
To implement the minimum wage in tea gardens, the government would have to first come out with a notification, set up a committee that will decide on the wage and get it passed in the Assembly.
In Bengal, the minimum wage varies from Rs 96 per day to Rs 193.50, depending on whether the worker is unskilled, semi-skilled or skilled and the sector he is employed in. Sikkim which has laid down a minimum wage for tea garden workers — the state has only one garden, Temi Tea, owned by the government — pays Rs 100 for unskilled, Rs 115 for semi-skilled, Rs 130 for skilled and Rs 150 for highly skilled workers. The garden owners said the government must, before taking a decision on wage revision, consider the many benefits like housing, medicine and rations that are provided by the industry.
Sandeep Mukherjee, secretary of the Darjeeling Tea Association, said: “The industry cannot afford a wage revision but following the government’s directive we will have to do a rethink.”