The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ghisingh doesn't want babus

Calcutta, Feb. 7: A day ahead of his meeting with Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh today said he was determined to press for a political resolution of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council tangle, not a bureaucratic bid at troubleshooting.

The Gorkha leader reiterated in the city what he had said in the hills ' that the elections to the hill council (DGHC) are 'secondary' till the tangle in which it is caught is undone through tripartite meetings at the political level.

'Elections are not a priority at this moment. Instead, all three signatories ' the Centre, the state government and the GNLF ' to the council should sit together to find a way out on how to strengthen the power of the council. The autonomous council has to be accorded a constitutional recognition,' Ghisingh said at Gorkha Bhavan in Salt Lake.

The GNLF chief refused to attach any importance to the January 28 meeting, held in Delhi, where officials from the Union home ministry and the state government were present. 'Such meetings at the bureaucratic level will not solve problems. The council was formed on August 22, 1988, on the basis of a political settlement and we want a review meeting at the political level,' he said.

'There is a deadlock so far as the present council is concerned. The remedy can be had only if we are able to provide an alternative and appropriate new status to the council.'

He added that the activities of the council, formed on the basis of a tripartite agreement 16 years ago, have to be reviewed to keep pace with times. 'We are worried about Maoist attacks in the wake of the developments in Nepal. So, a council with an appropriate new status is the need of the hour.'

The hill leader wrote to the chief minister, the Prime Minister and the Union home minister last October, listing his demands, including that of a tripartite meeting, and warned that no poll could be held till all the issues were resolved.

Today, Ghisingh dismissed reports of his demand for Rs 50 crore for the council. 'I did not ask for any funds. Instead, the council has to be strengthened before (the) elections are held,' he said.

Asked about tomorrow's meeting with the chief minister, Ghisingh said: 'I have come here to finalise the memorandum of settlement with regard to the constitutional status of the autonomous council.'

The elections to the DGHC, whose term has twice been extended by the state, have to be held by March 25. The government is bent on holding the polls because an ordinance will have to be issued for a third extension.

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