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CM snubs hill Opp.
- Budda ignores PDF presence, announces increase in development funds

Darjeeling, June 25: Just over a year after Biman Bose, chairman of the Left Front, shared the dais with the People's Democratic Front (PDF), the chief minister refused to even acknowledge the presence of the Opposition in the hills.

When quizzed on the PDF demand for a CBI probe into the multi-crore school scam, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, the chief minister of the 30-year Left government, curtly replied: 'Who (is the) Opposition' What Opposition' to stunned reporters here on Saturday.

Many believe that Bhattacharjee's statement was an obvious indication of the CPM's return to its 'trusted allies' in the hills. The party was always accused of having a 'tacit' understanding with Subash Ghisingh, but with Bose agreeing to address a PDF meeting and join hands with them last year, many had believed that the CPM would also start performing the role of an active Opposition party in the hills.

CPM party leaders, however, maintain that the bonhomie of roughly six-months between the CPM and the PDF had come to an end because of the 'carelessness' of the hill leaders. Soon after the meeting, senior PDF leaders, including Madan Tamang, D.K. Pradhan, Sawan Rai and R.B. Rai, had submitted a memorandum to Bose to pass a resolution on Gorkhaland at the Assembly. A visibly red-faced Bose was reportedly taken in by the 'humiliating surprise' that was sprung on him at Tourist Lodge on May Day. 'What was the need to raise the demand for Gorkhaland' Everyone had agreed to form a strong coalition against Ghisingh and Gorkhaland was not an issue at that particular moment,' a CPM leader had said.

The ties seemed to have virtually severed at the lodge, but Bhattacharjee's latest statement came as an affirmative of the CPM's future roadmap vis- a-vis hill politics. Sawan Rai, convener, PDF, said: 'It is unfortunate that he refused to meet us. His actions speaks volumes'what else can we say.'

The PDF, which had sought an appointment with the chief minister, had wanted a clarification on the handling of the multi-crore school scam by the state's investigating agency. Bhattacharjee, however, gave a clean chit to Ghisingh for 'immediately bringing the matter to the government's notice'.

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