Darjeeling, Aug. 6: The state government would find it difficult to run the GTA with a nominated head or hold fresh elections to the autonomous body now, given the emotions of the people who want Gorkhaland, Morcha leaders and sources said today.
The Bengal government is considering elevating one of the members it nominated to the GTA Sabha to the post of chief executive, vacated by Morcha president Bimal Gurung.
Morcha leaders and sources The Metro spoke to presented a picture that suggested the party had come to view the GTA as the obstacle towards statehood and an en-masse resignation of its hill body members could not be ruled out.
A Morcha insider today said: “There is no doubt that everyone in the hills has started believing that the GTA is the biggest stumbling block towards the formation of a separate state of Gorkhaland. It will be difficult for any government to start the process of elections to the GTA, given this overwhelming feeling (for statehood) among the hill people now. This is our biggest strength.”
The Morcha wants to build up on the emotive issue of Gorkhaland before asking all its members to resign. The party has decided that none of its elected members will attend to any GTA work, effectively bringing the hill set-up to a standstill.
A Morcha leader asked: “When every soul in the hills feels that unless the GTA is dissolved getting statehood will be difficult, will three Trinamul (state government)-nominated members be able to run the GTA?”
A Morcha leader said: “We are ready to resign (from the GTA) at any time but we are waiting for an opportune moment.” He said an en-masse resignation could be used as a tool to fan statehood emotions. The Morcha leader said if the state government decided to hold elections in such circumstances, Trinamul leaders would not be in a position even to file nominations.
The government had nominated Durga Kharel, Milan Dukpa and Satish Kumar Thing to the GTA Sabha. One of the nominated members, who did not want to be named, when asked about the state’s plan, said: “I have not thought of the issue.”
The Morcha today said that yesterday’s arrest of Anit Thapa, a GTA executive Sabha member and the face of the Morcha in Kurseong, showed the government’s strategy to apply pressure on the party by rounding up senior leaders.
The state government has so far arrested 111 Morcha activists, including 16 women of the Gorkhaland Personnel, who were caught last night.
Police arrested Thapa from the Kurseong Motor Stand yesterday evening purportedly because of a pending warrant in a case filed during the Gorkhaland agitation.
Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, said from Delhi over phone: “The arrest is a clear indication that the government is trying to arrest our leaders simply to curb the popular movement. The government will realise that it will not succeed with such strategies.”
Thapa, who was produced in the court of the additional chief judicial magistrate, Kurseong, was sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.
Asok Sharma, his lawyer, said Thapa has been arrested in a case of arson under Section 436 of the IPC. The case is related to an attack on a GNLF supporter’s house at Chimney in Kurseong.
Giri said the government was constantly violating Clause 29 of the GTA Act, according to which the government was expected to review “all the cases registered under various laws against persons involved in the GJM agitation”.