BENGAL POLITICS OVER DARJEELING & DOOARS: Morcha exerts December pressure – Plea to governor for early set-up – while Bengal stays deaf, dumb and mute since 1947 ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Nov. 8: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today said it would renew its agitation if the interim set-up for the hills was not in place by December, the threat this time coming from an outfit wary and under pressure to sign the agreement at the earliest. (after a quarter century of Bengal’s snide dilly-dallying ?!!)
This is not the first time that the Morcha has resorted to pressure tactics before tripartite talks. The political-level talks are likely to be held at the end of this month or in early December. But unlike in the past, the hill party, too, is under pressure this time. It is eager to sign the agreement for an interim set-up at the earliest for if the model code of conduct for next year’s Assembly elections kicks in, the new arrangement for the hills will have to be shelved till the next government comes to power.
To keep its flock together and assure its supporters that the interim set-up was not the end, Morcha president Bimal Gurung today told a gathering in Kurseong that a Union Territory status for the hills was a possibility after the tenure of the interim arrangement ended in 2012.
In Darjeeling, after meeting governor M.K. Narayanan at Raj Bhawan, Gurung said: “The interim set-up must be implemented by December for the welfare of the people and taking into account the ground reality…or else, our agitation will continue.”
The Gurung-led delegation requested Narayanan to take up the matter of the interim authority with the state government so that it is instituted by December. “We told the governor all that we had been telling the Centre. We are hopeful the governor will raise the issue of the interim set-up (with both the state and Delhi), taking into account the ground reality of the hills,” said Gurung.
By “ground reality”, Gurung was referring to the support the Morcha currently enjoys in the hills and why the governor should only hear out the hill outfit and not its rivals who had also met Narayanan.
The Democratic Front, a six-party anti-Morcha conglomeration from the hills, met Narayanan on Saturday.
Dawa Sherpa, the working president of the ABGL and also the convener of the front, said the front members were strongly opposed to the interim set-up. “We expressed our reservation on the interim set-up and told the governor that it would not solve the Darjeeling problem. We have also demanded that elections to the panchayats, which have not been held for the past six years, should be immediately held as this has infringed on the political rights of the hill people,” Sherpa said.
Political observers believe that the Morcha eagerness to find an early solution stems from the fact that its rivals have threatened to campaign against the interim set-up after Diwali.
“Gurung probably does not want a repeat of the Sixth Schedule fiasco and wants to seal the deal as early as possible,” said an observer. The Morcha leadership is aware that a two-year delay in getting the Sixth Schedule status implemented in the hills led to an anti-Subash Ghisingh movement and ultimately the birth of Gurung’s party. The memorandum of settlement for the Sixth Schedule status was signed between the state, Centre and Ghisingh but could not be carried through because of widespread protests.
“Had the Sixth Schedule status been conferred immediately on the hills, there wouldn’t have been any change in the political scene,” said an observer. (that serves Ghising just right – and the Gorkha people a life saver – for not being able to choose the right people around him and trusting those that Jyoti Basu recommended ?!!)