The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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CPM protests Ghisingh diktat
- Communists take on hill chief for ‘gratuitous decree’

Siliguri, Sept. 18: At a time when the “religious leanings” of veteran CPM minister Subhas Chakraborty has left the communists red-faced, the district unit of the party has issued an official release criticising GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh for interfering with people’s freedom to practice their faith.

The release, issued today and signed by the Darjeeling district committee secretary of the CPM, S.P. Lepcha, will definitely come as a relief to Chakraborty whose visit to Tarapeeth to pay obeisance to the deity there had raked up enough controversy.

For the moment, the transport minister can breathe a sigh of relief as he shares the spotlight with the GNLF chief.

The Darjeeling district committee has criticised Ghisingh for asking people to worship loha or metals on Viswakarma Puja to be held in the hills on September 23.

Though a similar diktat was issued last year when the hills were forced to replace even the idol of Goddess Durga with stones, the CPM thought it is time that the development is discussed.

At a meeting held on Saturday in Kurseong, the CPM leaders came down on the GNLF for “attacking the religious sentiments and beliefs” of the hill people.

According to Lepcha, whether people should go in for stones or for idol worship depends entirely on the religious beliefs of an individual or community.

“No administrative or political person should interfere,” he added. The district leadership has conveyed its views to chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. The party’s state secretariat member and district leader Jibitesh Sarkar, however, brushed aside any comparison with Chakraborty. There is nothing common in the two incidents, he claimed.

“But we will definitely create public opinion against Ghisingh’s gratuitous decree. We are talking about the beliefs of the common man, not that of a party leader. In the party, we have to follow certain scientific norms (read basic tenets of communism), but there is nothing binding on the ordinary people,” Sarkar added.

The CPM leaders have also decided to raise the demand for the Constitution amendment bill — that will give Sixth Schedule status to the hills — to be placed in the winter session of the Lok Sabha.

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