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Morcha derails GNLF event

Bimal Gurung

Darjeeling, Dec. 4: A Morcha youth wing meeting scheduled in Mirik has derailed rival GNLF’s plan to celebrate its “accord day” on December 6 at the same place.

Although GNLF leaders said the party would not celebrate the signing of the Sixth Schedule accord till Calcutta High Court delivered the verdict on its petition against the formation of the GTA, sources said the party wanted to avoid a confrontation with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in Mirik, where the GNLF still has some supporters.

Arjun Rai, the convenor of the GNLF at Mirik, said: “We have decided not to celebrate the accord day. The party will not engage itself in any political activity unless Calcutta High Court delivers its verdict on the GTA.”

The GNLF has marked December 6 as its “accord day” since 2006 to celebrate the signing of the memorandum of settlement signed in 2005 to bring the hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The Morcha, however, dismissed the matter as a “coincidence”.

Priyabardan Rai, the general secretary of the Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha, said the outfit had not planned the December 6 meeting to snub the GNLF.

“It is merely coincidence. We have already lined up a series of meetings to strengthen the organisation and also to tell the public about the powers of the GTA. Apart from Mirik, we will hold meetings in Kalimpong. Our political activity has got nothing to do with them (the GNLF).”

He said most of the GTA Sabha members would attend the Mirik programme, but it is not yet clear whether Morcha president Bimal Gurung will be present.

Observers said the GNLF has just revived its women wing, the Gorkha National Women’s Organisation, at Mirik.

Subash Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, had filed a petition in the high court challenging the formation of the GTA without amending the Constitution. Hearing in the case is going on.

Observers said the Morcha’s decision to hold the meeting at Mirik on Thursday was not mere coincidence.

“The party had adopted similar tactics in the past also to derail events planned by rivals such as the ABGL and the CPRM. As the Morcha has a larger mass base, the other parties would either cancel or postpone their events, as they wanted to avoid a confrontation. The GNLF’s decision to cancel the celebration of the accord day has to be viewed from that context,” said an observer.

The agreement to grant the Sixth Schedule status to the hills was signed by the GNLF, Centre and the state on December 6, 2005.