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Silence ahead of ‘storm’

Darjeeling, Aug 22: GNLF leaders today asserted that Subash Ghisingh’s silence had a political overtone and once he spoke up, there would be a “storm” that even the Centre couldn’t withstand.

The comments made on the occasion of the DGHC Accord Day are seen as an effort by the GNLF to keep the morale of its supporters high at a time the party is mobilising public support in the hills.

Anil Lochan, the assistant secretary of the GNLF’s Kalimpong branch committee, said: “There is politics behind his (Subash Ghisingh’s) silence. A storm is brewing in his silence. When he speaks out, not even the Centre can withstand the storm.”

He was addressing a public meeting in Darjeeling’s Chowk Bazar today to celebrate the DGHC Accord Day. On August 22, 1988, the Centre, state and the GNLF had signed a memorandum of settlement to form the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

M.G. Subba, the convenor of the GNLF’s Darjeeling branch committee, said: “Our leader will address the people once we get popular support in the hills. The party is now mobilising support and people are returning to the GNLF.”

The GNLF is still the most formidable force after the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in the hills. But GNLF chief Ghisingh has been shying away from addressing his supporters. The last public meeting he had addressed was in Darjeeling on April 15, 2011, ahead of the Assembly elections.

On June 22 this year, Ghisingh had addressed his supporters who had come to wish him on his 80th birthday. “I am not yet finished but this is not a platform for political speech. I will talk about politics from Kalimpong or Kurseong or Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling. Chowk Bazar in Darjeeling is the place for political speeches,” the GNLF chief said from the balcony of his residence on Dr Zakir Hussian Road here.

However, Ghisingh did not turn up at any meeting organised by the GNLF thereafter. The party has been holding rallies on Saturdays and Sundays across the hills for the past one month.

The GNLF today said the Morcha was not sincere in achieving Gorkhaland.

“They talked about Gorkhaland and we (GNLF) kept their path clear to allow them to achieve Gorkhaland. They have achieved nothing. Now, the Morcha has an MP and a government of its choice. Let them show us Gorkhaland,” said Lochan.

The GNLF’s political stand is “revival of DGHC unless the Sixth Schedule status is conferred on the Darjeeling hills”.

Ghisingh, however, has not spelt out his plan for achieving the Sixth Schedule status. He had mostly stayed away from Darjeeling since 2008.

Ghisingh left Darjeeling for Jalpaiguri on July 26, 2008, a day after a Morcha activist, Pramila Sharma, had been killed by a bullet allegedly fired from the house of a GNLF leader in Darjeeling. He returned to Darjeeling on April 8, 2011, to campaign for GNLF candidates in the Assembly elections. All three candidates fielded by the GNLF in Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong lost the elections.

Ghisingh again left Darjeeling on May 16, 2011, after alleged GNLF supporters had killed a Morcha activist, Rabin Rai, in Sonada. He was back in Darjeeling on March 19 this year and told his supporters that he would stay here permanently.

Civic reshuffle

The Darjeeling municipality has changed councillors in charge of all seven departments.

Amar Singh Rai, the chairman of Darjeeling municipality, said on Friday that the shuffle had been done on the direction of GTA chief executive, Bimal Gurung.

“No one has been dropped. But the councillors in charge of different departments have been reshuffled. This has been done for better administration of the civic body,” he said.

The seven departments are water works, engineering, zamindari, licence, conservancy, urban poverty alleviation and mutation. Fourteen councillors had been given charge of the seven departments with two of them being assigned charge of one department each when the Morcha formed the civic board.

In the reshuffle, there are no new faces and all the 14 councillors have been given new departments.