Harka Bahadur Chhetri (right) speaks to journalists in Calcutta on Friday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta
Calcutta, Feb. 15: A Gorkha Janmukti Morcha team today said it had apprised the Bengal governor of the state’s alleged interference in the GTA’s affairs and that M.K. Narayanan had assured the leaders he would speak to the chief minister about the political situation in the hills.
The delegation led by Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri met Narayanan at Raj Bhavan this evening to “find a solution” to the impasse in the hills.
Chhetri said one of the major points of discussion was the “political interference” of the state government in the functioning of certain departments that had been transferred to the GTA Sabha according to the tripartite agreement.
“Departments like land reforms, minority affairs, backward classes development, transport and tribal affairs are not being able to function independently because of political interference. Pattas of land are being distributed and a development board is being formed for the Lepchas without informing the GTA Sabha,” Chhetri said.
The chief minister had distributed land deeds among people during her visit to Darjeeling at the end of last month. The Morcha then alleged that the GTA Sabha hadn’t been informed about the programme.
Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of Darjeeling municipality and a member of the delegation, said the party had also briefed the governor on the chief minister’s public statement at Chowrastha in Darjeeling. “We had not gone to complain against anyone but basically to apprise the governor of the situation,” he said.
At the Chowrastha meeting, Mamata Banerjee sparked protests when she said “Darjeeling is a part of us”.
Rai said the governor asked the Morcha leaders to de-escalate the present situation. “He stressed the need to de-escalate the situation in Darjeeling and has told us that he will also speak to both the chief minister and the home minister in the coming days. He has appealed to the Morcha to ensure the GTA’s success,” Rai said.
The Morcha also informed the governor about some “communication gaps” between the state government and the GTA Sabha. “There are certain communication gaps between the state and the GTA Sabha. The political situation is deteriorating. We met the governor to appraise him of the political situation in the hills and to find a solution (to the problem) so that normalcy is maintained,” said Chhetri, who is also the spokesperson for the Morcha.
The MLA said the delegation had discussed with the governor the issue setting up a central university in the GTA area.
“Till date there has been no discussion on that matter and now we are hearing that North Bengal University would be made a central university. If that happens, then the chances of a central university being made in Darjeeling would be minimised as there cannot be two central universities in the same zone,” Chhetri said.
The Morcha leader said they had discussed their stand regarding the formation of the Lepcha development board with Narayanan, but he refused to divulge the details. “Things can happen without the knowledge of the governor also,” he said.