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CM reveals hill poll plan on bill eve

Siliguri, March 13: Election to the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council will have to be held within six months of the expiry of the present council's extended term on March 26.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today said such a provision will be included in the DGHC Act Amendment Bill that will be tabled in the Assembly tomorrow.

The chief minister also said he would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi on March 20 to discuss the 'interim arrangement' that would be looking after the hill administration till the poll is held and the results are declared.

'The final interim arrangement will be a joint Centre and state decision,' the chief minister said, adding that he would discuss the election procedure and a possible date for holding the poll with the Prime Minister.

The amendment will provide for the appointment of a person or persons who would be in charge of the council till a leader is elected. It would also take care of the options that would be available if the term of the council expires and the election is not held, as in the present situation.

The chief minister held several meetings at the circuit house here, one of which was with the three-party People's Democratic Front (PDF), the anti-Subash Ghisingh coalition in the hills.

The CPM and the CPI have tied up with the front for the hill election.

'We have told the chief minister that Ghisingh cannot be chosen if the state opts for a one-man administrator to head the interim arrangement, ' said Madan Tamang, the PDF chairman.

'If a board of administrators is appointed, we do not object to Ghisingh being its chairman, provided all other hill parties also have representatives,' said Sawan Rai, a senior leader of a PDF affiliate.

'If Ghisingh becomes the one-man administrator, we will be forced to go call an indefinite strike,' Tamang said.

The PDF has called a meeting at Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling tomorrow to 'raise awareness' about this demand. An hour-long wheel-jam will be organised from 11 am to coincide with the meeting.

Bhattacharjee also met the district magistrates and police chiefs of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, along with the north Bengal inspector-general and his deputy to review security. There was also a meeting with the district CPM leaders.

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