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GTA plea on CM visit

Darjeeling, Jan. 13: The GTA Sabha today requested state officials involved in drawing up the itineraries of the chief minister to ensure that the hill body was kept in the loop about the details of her visit to Darjeeling later this month.

Observers have said the plea seeks to avert any unpleasant incident like the one at Chowrasta on January 29 last year. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, at a government event then, had told a crowd at Chowrasta that Darjeeling is “a part of us”. The comment sparked protests at the venue that made Mamata upset.

Lt. Col. (retd) Ramesh Allay, the deputy chief of the GTA, said: “We would request the state officials to keep the GTA in the loop about issues related to the chief minister’s visit to Darjeeling on January 22. This is because many of the subjects have been transferred to the GTA.”

He was addressing a gathering after inaugurating the 14-day Krishi Mela at Jamuni, about 15km from Darjeeling town.

Relations between Mamata and the GTA chief executive had got strained after January 29 last year, mainly because Bimal Gurung was angry the chief minister had distributed pattas in Darjeeling, even though the land and land reforms department had been transferred to the GTA.

Gurung had made an oblique reference to the distribution of pattas by the chief minister without taking the GTA into confidence. Soon after Gurung’s speech, things took an ugly turn after the chief minister reprimanded Gorkha Janmukti Morcha supporters for raising “we want Gorkhaland” slogans in response to Mamata’s comment on a unified state.

It is only recently that the relations between the state government and Gurung have improved. Mamata is scheduled to attend a programme organised by the Tamang community in Mirik on January 21, followed by a government event at Chowrasta the next day.

Allay said: “Yesterday’s marathon (Amway Darjeeling Police Marathon) was a huge success, but initially, the police had not kept us in the loop. They came to us later but we immediately decided to help them and the GTA also played a major role in its success.”

The krishi melas are being held at four places in the hills. Fairs at Jamuni and Relli in Kalimpong kicked off today, the ones in Kurseong and Mirik begin tomorrow.