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Stay on, appeals Barla
- Tribal leader meets Dooars-Terai Morcha faces

Siliguri, Sept. 7: John Barla, the Terai and Dooars tribal leader, today held talks with aggrieved leaders and workers of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha at Jaigaon and asked them to return to the hill party.

The move comes after Barla learnt that most of the key leaders of the Morcha in Terai and Dooars had tendered their resignation early this week as a mark of protest against the hill leadership’s perceived indifference towards their problems in the Dooars and Terai.

The meeting was Barla’s attempt to prevent the leaders from deserting the Morcha but observers said Barla would be a worried man as the Morcha folding up in the plains would mean his loss of Gorkha votes in the panchayat elections. Barla and the Morcha had decided to fight the panchayat polls jointly.

“We held a meeting with the Morcha leaders of Dooars today and made it clear that their notions are incorrect. It is not true that their central leaders are not considering the issues of Terai and Dooars and focusing only on the GTA,” Barla said.

A number of dissident leaders, including representatives of the Nari Morcha — the women’s front of Morcha — were present at the meeting, Barla said. “Leaders like Padam Lama (the president of Morcha in Dooars who resigned) and Ganesh Allay (former general secretary of Morcha in Dooars) were not present at today’s meeting. We have spoken over phone and will talk to them soon,” Barla said.

“Those present today appeared satisfied in our clarifications. It is unlikely that they would desert the Morcha now. From our side, we will request the central leaders to reject the resignation letters submitted by these leaders.”

Barla, who was scheduled to hold talks with Morcha president Bimal Gurung on this issue in Darjeeling on Sunday, said the meeting would be held later. The Morcha chief had to go to Delhi because of the sudden illness of his 82-year-old father, Bharat Gurung, who had to be taken for treatment. “When he returns from Delhi, we will surely talk to him on the issue,” Barla said. Even though Barla has launched the exercise, Morcha leaders who have resigned from posts are reluctant to return. “We are utterly disappointed over the silence of central leadership, who took no initiative to address our issues,” said an aggrieved leader.