GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL SIGNIFICANCE: Morcha off to meet ‘mediator’ MP – Deadline & sudden Delhi trip point to loose ends – still working towards the psychological concept that all Bengal may accept the concept of a ‘State within a State’ for the ultimate separation from Bengal not to turn into the earlier 1947 communal disaster ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH
BY VIVEK CHHETRI
Darjeeling, Nov. 29: A four-member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation led by Roshan Giri left for Delhi today to meet Jaswant Singh, a day after the party set a December 20 deadline for the Centre and the state to establish the interim authority.
Going by the composition of the delegation, the Darjeeling MP is probably acting as a mediator between the party and the Centre and is expected to help thrash out the contentious issues before the final agreement on the interim authority is drawn up.
Tight-lipped about the delegation’s objectives, Giri said: “We are going to meet Jaswant Singh. This is our only agenda right now.”
The three members of the team are former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh Trilok Dewan, former principal secretary of DGHC L.B. Pariyar and party spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri. The four members have been an integral part of the tripartite meetings between the Morcha and the Centre and the state in the past.
Observers believe that the team is probably trying to hold negotiations with the Centre through Singh to thrash out four contentious issues: mode of selection to the interim set-up, transfer of tauzi department, procedure for handing over of legislative powers and the territorial jurisdiction of the new body.
After meeting Union home minister P. Chidambaram on November 1 along with Singh who had then mediated between the two sides, Morcha president Bimal Gurung had announced that “only one more meeting was needed to ink the deal”. But the Morcha’s announcement of the deadline yesterday and the sudden departure for Delhi today are pointers that the state government, which is already in an election mode, is probably not in agreement with the party on the four issues.
The Morcha had claimed that a joint verification committee would be formed to review its demand for the inclusion of Gorkha-dominated areas in the interim set-up, the report of which would be placed before the appropriate authority by May 2011.
The hill party had also claimed that the members running the interim authority would be nominated instead of being elected and that the transfer of the tauzi department had been broadly agreed upon. “Given the Morcha’s recent decision to hold rallies for the inclusion of the tauzi department and to set a time frame to sign the deal failing which it has threatened to launch an agitation for a final solution, it is obvious that all the loose ends are yet to be tied. There must have been objections from the state government and the team has probably left for Delhi to sort out the issues,” said an observer.
In the hills, rival GNLF iterated that the Sixth Schedule was the only viable solution. “Given the present situation, the Sixth Schedule is the only viable option and an agreement had already been reached with our party in 2005. The Sixth Schedule has constitutional guarantee and the same cannot be said of the interim set-up,” said Shivraj Thapa, media and publicity secretary of the GNLF’s Darjeeling sub-divisional committee.
Subash Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, has already expressed his desire to return to the hills and this has also prompted a strong response from all political parties. “In a democracy, all parties are allowed to function. We, however, believe that the hill people have already rejected the Sixth Schedule status and Ghisingh should drop the idea of Sixth Schedule for a separate statehood,” said Narayan Chhetri, the spokesperson for the ABGL.
The CPRM added that if Ghisingh was to return to the hills, he should leave behind all his “bad habits”. “If he is to return he should leave behind his bad habits like confusing the general public and encouraging them to drink. The Sixth Schedule does have constitutional guarantee but the people have rejected it. Instead, he (Ghisingh) should concentrate on statehood,” said R.B. Rai, the general secretary of the CPRM.
Giri said Ghisingh must be day-dreaming about reviving the GNLF in the hills.
Hills bond SMC allies – but that still doesn’t make the Mahukuma Parishad legal or constitutional once the DGHC has been dissolved and replaced by the GRA ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Siliguri, Nov. 29: The Trinamul Congress and the Congress today jointly adopted a resolution moved by the Opposition Left Front on the jurisdiction of all 47 wards of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
The consensus — between the allies that helped adopt the resolution opposing the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s demand for including six wards of Siliguri in the proposed interim set-up — comes after more than a year of strained relationship.
“All the six wards (2, 3, 41, 42, 45 and 46) have Gorkha majority and so we want their inclusion in the authority,” Shankar Adhikari, the chief convener of the Morcha’s Terai committee, had said.
Mukul Sengupta, the CPM councillor of Ward 2, proposed that a resolution be taken at the civic body, opposing the Morcha’s demand.
“As the SMC has been formed under constitutional provisions, the demand raised by the Morcha to separate six wards from the civic body is confusing and can create unpleasant situations. We, therefore, want the resolution to be passed opposing this demand,” Sengupta said.
Gautam Deb, the Trinamul leader of the party at the SMC, however, suggested modification to the proposal. He said since the civic body did not have any written document on the Morcha’s demand, except for media reports, the resolution should not contain the name of any organisation or party.
“We feel a similar proposal, in an amended form, saying that there should be no change in the jurisdiction and structure of the existing wards and none of the wards should be separated from the SMC should be passed,” Deb said. “It is important to keep in mind that no step or decision should be taken by the SMC which can affect the ongoing tripartite talks.”
Congress mayor Gangotri Datta endorsed Deb’s amended proposal. Soon, SMC chairperson Sabita Devi Agarwal placed the modified proposal for adoption. Both the Congress and the Trinamul councillors supported the resolution, while the Left members refrained from supporting it.
The Opposition members insisted that the words “In context of the demand raised by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha…” be included in the resolution.
The civic meeting continued for around four hours, discussing issues like repairing roads, construction of drains and drinking water supply. It also decided to set up statues of six prominent personalities — Rabindranath Tagore, Thakur Panchanan Burma, Sukanta Bhattacharya, Sisir Bhaduri, Rajendra Prasad and Maharaj Agrasen — at different locations of the town.
‘Centre, state should honour Schedule pact’ – by the man who sold off Darjeeling’s Siliguri for an ego trip that betrayed the Indian Gorkhas worldwide ?!!
From The Statesman
SILIGURI, 28 NOV: The Gorkha National Liberation Front president, Mr Subash Ghisingh today demanded that both the Centre and the state governments should ‘honour’ the agreement of Sixth Schedule for Darjeeling Hills, inked on 6 December 2005.
Addressing the GNLF workers’ meet at a private guesthouse near Jalpaimore under Siliguri Municipal Corporation area in Jalpaiguri district, Mr Ghisingh today made it clear that both the Centre and the state governments have been delaying to pass the Sixth Schedule in Parliament and its execution in the Hills. Demanding ‘Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council under Sixth Schedule’, he also said: “If they holdup its implementation, the present situation in the Hills would change and it would be aggravated for the worse.”
The GNLF supremo today made it clear that the present situation was not favourable for demanding Gorkhaland. (sns)
Darjeeling tourist spots lying in a shambles – when was it ever pristine, except before Independence since before 1947 ?!!
From The Times of India
By Deep Gazmer
DARJEELING, Nov 29, 2010, 12.54am IST (TNN): Once a must-visit for tourists to Darjeeling, the Rock Garden and Gangamaya Park near Dali, about 4 km from the Hill town, have been lying in a shambles for nearly two years now.
The two tourist spots, which used to draw up to 10,000 tourists daily in the peak season, were ravaged by Cyclone Aila in May 2009. The spate of political agitations and strikes in the Hills has ensured that neither DGHC nor the state government has undertaken a project since then to revamp and renovate them.
A brainchild of Subash Ghisingh, the garden was a major attraction in Darjeeling. “I had heard a lot about the two spots from friends who had visited them. But I had a harrowing time reaching there as the roads are terrible,” said Keshav Majhi, a tourist from Jharkhand.
The road through scenic tea gardens is now a cluster of potholes. In fact, on some stretches tourists prefer to walk it down as they fear the vehicle might overturn.
The Gangamaya Park is closed to tourists. The Park used to have boating facilities, eateries and natural flower gardens but much of it was damaged by Aila.
DGHC officials admitted that work has started off said that an estimate of `5.6 crores had been prepared for restoring the two destinations. The proposal is yet to be handed over to the state government. “The devastation is extensive and massive renovation work is required. We have completed a proposal with estimates that will be sent to the state government soon,” said P T Sherpa, the DGHC tourism secretary.
“Our only source of income was the two tourist spots. It is really sad to see that the DGHC and state government have done nothing for the parks,” said Dhanmaya Rai.
GORKHA ADIVASI POLITICAL WARNING: RTI activist points at scam – Akhil demands Gogoi’s ouster – which could also very well happen in Darjeeling in the not too distant future, which Bengal so fervently wants at all costs ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Guwahati, Nov. 29: RTI activist Akhil Gogoi today said he had a strong suspicion that another scam, like the LoC scam that took place during the AGP regime led by Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, had taken place during the tenure of chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
“The people of Assam are well aware that an LoC scam took place during Prafulla Mahanta’s rule but we have a strong suspicion that another LoC-like scam took place during Tarun Gogoi’s tenure. Our suspicion is based on the special CAG audit report that exposes massive corruption in the NC Hills autonomous council from 2007-08 to 2008-09,” Akhil Gogoi, the general secretary of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity, said.
The peasant leader told reporters here that the state government had informed the CAG that it had released Rs 151.40 crore to the NC Hills autonomous council. But the CAG found during its special audit conducted over 26 months that Rs 424.04 crore had been released. “The CAG clearly mentions that the state government did not provide them with sufficient information and tried to hide statistics during the special audit process,” he added.
“So we suspect that the LoC-like scam took place during Gogoi’s term and money was released with false documents,” he said.
He also alleged that the state government had concealed the original probe report of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which had the names of some cabinet ministers. “The chief minister and his cabinet colleagues are involved in the scam but the state government managed to hide the original report of NIA,” he alleged and demanded the resignation of Tarun Gogoi and his three cabinet colleagues, Himanta Biswa Sarma, Gautam Roy and Khorsingh Ingti, on moral grounds.
The Opposition AGP also demanded Tarun Gogoi’s resignation over the CAG report, which observed massive corruption in the NC Hills autonomous council.
AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary asked Tarun Gogoi to follow the example of Union telecom minister A. Raja who resigned after the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report was tabled in Parliament. He produced the special audit report of the CAG before the media and said Tarun Gogoi should resign immediately on moral grounds.
“The chief minister had earlier said he would resign if someone could prove the allegations of Rs 1,000 crore scam in the NC Hills council. Now that the CAG report has proved the allegations of financial anomalies, Gogoi should resign immediately,” he said. Quoting the CAG report, he said, “Reasons for release of excess fund by the state government over the budget provisions were not available on record. Release of excess funds over the budget provision is fraught with the risk of misutilisation, misappropriation of fund.”
Patowary said the CAG audit covered financial transactions of only eight departments of the council — PHC, agriculture, forest, social welfare, PWD, education, medical and police from 2007-08 to June 12, 2009. He said during this period, the government gave Rs 272,64,23,000 as excess funds without any budget. The scam would be several times more than Rs 1,000 crore if the financial transactions of all the 30 departments under the council were audited, he added.
Gogoi pulls up cops for AASU vandalism – thus the bitter aftermath, better cautious than sorry ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Guwahati, Nov. 29: Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today took police to task for failing to prevent vandalism at Vishal Mega Mart by activists of the All Assam Students Union.
Speaking to deputy commissioners and superintendents of police at a review meeting at the Administrative Staff College here, Gogoi asked the police to deal firmly with anybody who tried to take the law into his/her own hands. The state police top brass, including director-general of police Shankar Barua, was present.
“When the Vishal outlet in Guwahati was attacked, it was found that the police were not very active. If we fail to prevent such acts of vandalism, it will send a wrong message. We cannot allow anyone to take the law into their own hands,” Gogoi said. He asked the police to ensure that such incidents do not take place in future.
The police drew flak for inept handling of the situation when AASU activists ransacked Vishal Mega Mart at Paltan Bazar on Thursday. The police and CRPF personnel allegedly stood like mute spectators as AASU activists vandalised the shop.
Gogoi said organisations had the right to protest in a peaceful and democratic way but they could not resort to violence. He said with Assembly elections around the corner, agitation and demonstrations might go up and the police should handle these efficiently and intelligently to prevent any outbreak of violence.
He also stressed the need to expedite socio-economic development in backward zones, particularly in the border areas. “There is an urgent need to develop these areas as insurgency is an outcome of economic backwardness.”
Gogoi said his government was according top priority to employment generation, agriculture, improving connectivity by constructing roads and bridges and setting up small, medium and cottage industries, among others, for rapid development.
“The deputy commissioners must ensure that the benefits of welfare schemes do not remain confined to a particular section of the people and percolate down to the poorer sections,” he said.
Addressing the meeting, chief secretary Naba Kumar Das said though insurgency had been contained to a great extent, the police needed to remain alert and work closely with intelligence agencies, central paramilitary forces and the army to prevent untoward incidents. He asked the deputy commissioners to monitor the progress of railway and road projects every month and provide adequate security to the workers.