GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Gurung finds solution in joint panel – the need for speed, which Bengal obdurately tries to stall ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Oct. 25: Bimal Gurung today hinted that a possible solution to end the impasse surrounding the territorial dispute of the interim set-up could lie in forming a joint verification committee.
The committee, comprising representatives of the Centre, state and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, will survey the areas that can be tagged along with the three hill subdivisions in Darjeeling district as part of the new set-up in the days to come, he said.
The Morcha president today held a meeting with the representatives of the party’s units in the Dooars and Terai to discuss “both the positive and negatives” of the negotiations that are on.
About the “positives”, Gurung said: “Those (issues) that have not been finalised like the territory, tauzi and the transfer of legislative powers will be negotiated at the political-level talks. The Centre and the state are trying to bargain and I will never let down the people of Dooars and Terai.” He said the people should not listen to rumours that the Dooars and Terai have been excluded from the interim set-up.
But Gurung also made it clear that it was not easy to instantly incorporate all areas. “During the meeting (political level talks), a decision might also be reached to form a joint verification committee that will survey the areas of Dooars and Terai and submit a report by 2011. In such a situation, the government has to agree to include the Nepali-dominated areas in the administrative arrangement that will be in force till 2012,” said Gurung.
The interim set-up, which is presently being negotiated, is supposed to be in force only till 2012.
The Morcha president said the “negatives” constituted the present political situation in Bengal. “The Congress, Trinamul Congress and the CPM may not agree to let go of the territories (to be included in the set-up) until the Assembly elections, fearing that they might lose the state elections. This is why this (formation of joint verification committee) is also being pursued,” he told the gathering in Darjeeling adding that the state was hatching a conspiracy to ensure that the plains are never administratively tagged with the hills. “We must not allow the state to succeed.”
The Telegraph had reported in today’s edition that a backstage negotiation was probably on given the fact that Gurung sounded confident of inking a settlement in the very next round of the political-level talks.
Given the fact that territory is a touchy issue, Gurung, did not clearly maintain that the Morcha has agreed to the joint verification committee proposal. “You must not think that this is finalised. I am merely talking about the pros and cons,” he said.
In fact, The Telegraph had reported on July 24that the Morcha was not averse to an idea of a joint committee to conduct surveys for inclusion of the areas in Dooars and Terai as had been done when the Bodo Territorial Council was formed.
Gurung added that the people of Dooars and Terai must intensify the agitation to be included in the interim set-up. “Soon after Diwali we will hold a massive meeting in Terai to intensify the movement. The inclusion demand must now come strongly from the plains people,” said Gurung.
Tribal rider for election support – where Bengal’s vision fails in a democratic India ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH BUREAU
Oct. 25: The regional committee of the Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad today said it would to support any party, barring the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, in the next year’s Assembly polls if it gave an undertaking to work for development of the tribal population in the Dooars.
The decision was taken after a two-day meeting of the Dooars Terai regional unit of the Parishad held in Banarhat, Jalpaiguri. Tribal leaders and over 500 workers attended the meet.
“We have decided not to field any candidate in the seats reserved for Scheduled Tribes in the Dooars and Terai. Similarly, we will not contest from seats which are either reserved for the Scheduled Castes or unreserved even if we have a substantial population there. We have identified 12 such constituencies in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and North Dinajpur districts,” said Tez Kumar Toppo, the state general secretary of the Parishad.
“It has been found that the tribal MLAs from these seats are guided by their respective parties, and even if they want to do something for the tribals, they cannot do anything. So, we will support a candidate of any political party, even from the CPM or Independents, if they give us a written undertaking to work for the development of the backward and deprived tribal population.”
John Barla, the president of the regional unit, said the Morcha would be an exception. “We will, however, never support any candidate pitted by the Morcha or an Independent backed by the hill party. There is no question of entering into any adjustment, formal or informal, with the Morcha before, during or after the polls.”
The Parishad decision has sent ripples across political circles, considering the fact that almost the entire tribal population in the Dooars and Terai is being controlled by the outfit. “Tribals have always been block vote banks for political parties. Candidates able to win the tribals’ support will emerge as winners,” a political observer said.
The seats where tribal votes would matter most are Phansidewa and Matigara-Naxalbari, Malbazar, Nagrakata, Birpara-Madarihat, Kalchini and Kumargram. The other five seats where the tribal population can also swing in a candidate’s favour are Jalpaiguri, Falakata, Mainaguri, Dhupguri and Alipurduar.
Centre readies forces for Bengal poll – 60000 troops on early list – a long awaited change of guard ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY NISHIT DHOLABHAI
New Delhi, Oct. 25: The Centre is giving finishing touches to a plan to send 60,000 paramilitary personnel to Bengal during the Assembly elections next year, the early preparations reflecting apprehensions of a possible surge in violence.
Assembly elections are due in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and Assam early next year. Although most of these states hold political significance for the ruling UPA, it is Bengal that is causing concern in the internal security establishment.
“We fear mayhem and we will send 600 companies of paramilitary forces. Preparations will start by February next year,” a senior government official said.
The proposed figure is far higher than the 220 companies (each company will have around 100 personnel) sent to Bengal for the parliamentary polls last year. In the last Assembly polls in 2006, around 600 companies were sent but the main concern then revolved around Maoists.
The proposal to set aside more central forces for Bengal comes at a time Mamata Banerjee has been demanding the withdrawal of security personnel from the Maoist-affected Jungle Mahal.
Mamata is unlikely to oppose the despatch of central forces to check violence during the elections. She would like the turnout to be high for maximum impact of anti-incumbency in the toughest elections for the Left in over 30 years.
However, the areas where the central forces will be deployed can cause some friction between the Centre and the Trinamul Congress. Trinamul feels that under the guise of fighting Maoists, the CPM is using the cover and might of central forces to annihilate political rivals.
Since the Maoist trouble began, six battalions of the CRPF have been deployed in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore. Some of these battalions were moved temporarily for polls in neighbouring Bihar but they are likely to return.
Moreover, the BSF has significant deployment on the India-Bangladesh border. The border force has close to 30,000 troops in the state, some of whom could also be deployed during elections, sources said.
The number of troops being proposed for Bengal exceeds the 45,000 deployed in Bihar, which is in the middle of elections and faces Maoist threat.
However, there is more to Bengal than just Maoist violence. The Centre is keeping two aspects in mind while deciding the force requirement in Bengal.
One, the possibility of the CPI (Maoist) involving itself deeper in the state during the polls. Two, clashes between CPM cadres and Trinamul workers, already on the rise, turning into full-fledged battles as the election dates draw closer.
“We have already begun to prepare ourselves for the tough task ahead. Among all the states going to polls, Bengal is going to be the most important,” said a home ministry source.
Union home minister P. Chidambaram says Mamata is a “valuable ally” but he has also made it clear that central forces are sent on the request of the state government. The Left Front government has sounded out Delhi on its concerns about the alleged nexus between the Maoists and Trinamul supporters.