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Councillors at Gurung door

Darjeeling, Oct. 11: The vice-chairman of the Darjeeling Municipality, B.M. Limboo, was removed from his post today.

Three other councillors have been stripped of their portfolios in what is being seen as the first major political repercussion after the formation of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. All four councillors met Morcha chief Bimal Gurung in the evening.

Gurung has in a warning to the GNLF said: “If we want to, we can bring about a change (in the municipality) anytime. But we are not indulging in politics for the chair. Our only focus is Gorkhaland.” Gurung was expelled from the GNLF, shortly after announcing that the hills should accept nothing short of Gorkhaland and that the Sixth Schedule was an eyewash. He then went ahead to form his own party on Monday.

Limboo will, however, continue to represent Ward 28 as its councillor. Bimal Gurung (he shares the same name as the Morcha chief), councillor of Ward 21, has been appointed the new vice-chairman. The shuffle was approved at an emergency meeting of the board of councillors this evening.

Civic chairman B.B. Dewan said the decision was taken “because of political alignment”, hinting that Limboo and the three councillors were close to the Morcha chief.

The GNLF has decided to hold a public meeting here on Saturday. “The meeting will be organised by the Darjeeling branch committee,” said Deepak Gurung, the president of the committee. Ghisingh’s party will speak on the benefits of the Sixth Schedule status there.

The People’s Democratic Front — an anti-Ghisingh coalition — formed a five-member committee today to chalk the roadmap for attaining statehood.

Many more people and organisations have pledged their support to the Morcha. Significant among them is the Akhil Bharatiya Tamang Buddhist Association.

Binay Tamang, the press and publicity secretary of the Morcha, said: “Almost a dozen organisations representing various communities like the Kirats, Dewans, Lepchas and Tamangs attended our meeting in Singamari.” The Tamang population in the hills stands close to 21 per cent and the presence of their representatives in the meeting is significant.

Ghisingh had in the past come down heavily on the Tamangs for adopting “non-Hindu” rituals.

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