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CPM Sixth Schedule plan

Darjeeling, March 14: The CPM has decided to campaign for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat by promising to give more teeth to the Sixth Schedule, the first draft of which was made when the party was at the helm of affairs in the state.

The CPM’s move to make the draft more powerful is being seen as a way to gain support of the GNLF to win the Darjeeling seat. The party’s hill manifesto says it will demand a powerful Sixth Schedule than what was proposed in 2005.

“We have always respected emotions of hill communities but our stand on statehood is different. We have always supported greater autonomy and we want the Sixth Schedule status to be conferred on the GTA area through an amendment to Article 244,” CPM leader Asok Bhattacharya said here today.

The party claimed its Sixth Schedule was more powerful than the draft supported by GNLF chief Subash Ghisingh.

Saman Pathak, the CPM candidate from Darjeeling, said: “Apart from home and judiciary, we want all the subjects to be transferred to the body under the Sixth Schedule. We also want the new body to have a separate governor.”

Ghisingh’s Sixth Schedule plan, perceived as a replication of the tribal administration in the Northeast, did not have any such features.

“We want the panchayat system to be revived, a separate planning commission for Sixth Schedule area with a nomination from the Sixth Schedule body to the national planning commission and the national integration commission,” said Pathak.

These provisions were not reflected in the first draft.

“We want a body with no interference from the state,” said Bhattacharya.

The Sixth Schedule Bill agreed to by the GNLF, Centre and state in 2005 could not be passed in the Lok Sabha. The bill lapsed when the Lok Sabha term ended in 2009.

Observers said the CPM’s move was aimed at gaining GNLF support. Asked about GNLF support, Bhattacharya said: “We want all political and social bodies to support us. We don’t believe in divide and rule policies.”