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GNLF fumes over status bill delay
- Statehood warning for Assembly

Calcutta, Dec. 19: Like their chief Subash Ghisingh, GNLF MLAs today warned the Bengal Assembly that they would go back to their demand for Gorkhaland if the Centre failed to pass the Sixth Schedule bill by February.

On Monday, Ghisingh had told chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Siliguri that in case of a delay in passing the bill it would be difficult for him to restrain his party supporters some of whom are already harping on Gorkhaland “out of frustration”.

Though the CPM had joined the GNLF to move a motion urging “all political parties to expedite the report of parliamentary standing committee on the bill and ensure its immediate passage”, municipal affairs minister Asok Bhattacharya revealed the tension between the two parties.

“We are compelled to renew Ghisingh’s term (as caretaker administrator of DGHC) since there are no alternatives. But we want council polls so that people can choose the body that will run the hills transparently and democratically,’’ the minister said.

Moving the motion, GNLF MLA from Kurseong Shanta Chhetri complained that the Centre had been delaying granting the status despite the Memorandum of Settlement being signed almost 20 months ago. “Certain forces who had formed the Prashant Tamang Fan Club and incited violence in the hills earlier are now instigating trouble by refusing to accept the Sixth Schedule status and demanding Gorkhaland,’’ she said.

The MLA was referring to Bimal Gurung, who had played a major role in garnering votes for the Indian Idol 3 winner. He was also an adviser to the fan club. Gurung later floated the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the party which is going full steam against the special status.

“We want peace and will wait till February before reverting to our movement for Gorkhaland,’’ the Kurseong MlA warned.

The chief minister, who is equally worried about the possibility of the revival of the Gorkhaland movement, has assured Ghisingh that he would raise the issue in Delhi with quarters concerned. He is currently in the capital to attend the National Development Council meeting.

The Trinamul Congress, however, has opposed the motion. “The CPM has brought the motion to hide its failure to get the bill passed in Parliament despite the leverage it enjoys at the Centre. Moreover, the Assembly cannot direct a parliamentary committee to expedite its deliberation. Let the committee come out with its report first,’’ said Partha Chatterjee, the leader of the House. He, however, said his party was for the bill.

Lamaspeak

Mahendra P. Lama, the vice-chancellor of Sikkim Central University, has come up with a “3/4 formula” to help get the maximum out of the Sixth Schedule status, reports our Darjeeling correspondent.

“We cannot speak only of rejecting the special status. We also need to suggest an alternative to the Standing Committee,” said Lama. “The idea is to demand 3/4th of the powers and area that would have (otherwise) been given to Gorkhaland. It must be made clear that nothing short of statehood can fulfill our aspirations,” said Lama.

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