The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Crown with little clout

Calcutta, March 30: Subash Ghisingh, who forced the government to appoint him sole caretaker of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, might be left with virtually no power after his functions are finalised.

'Ghisingh has been made just a caretaker of the council. He will not be able to exercise his powers as he used to during his tenure as DGHC chairman. We will soon issue a notification mentioning his powers,' urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya said.

According to the draft prepared by the government's hill affairs department, the former DGHC chairman will continue to enjoy all personal facilities, but within the council, his power is restricted to monitoring ongoing development projects, running the administration and redressing people's problems.

He can neither take policy decisions nor spend funds without the government's permission.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government went ahead with Ghisingh's appointment last week despite pressure from the CPM and the five-party alliance in the hills to form a board comprising representatives from all parties.

At a meeting with CPM state secretary Anil Biswas on Sunday, they had made it clear that the GNLF leader should not be allowed to exercise full powers.

According to officials at Writers' Buildings, Bhattacharya, who is also convener of the Darjeeling district Left Front, got the green signal from the chief minister to fix Ghisingh's jurisdiction.

'Despite our reservations' we have agreed, to avoid bloodshed in the hills and maintain peace. But now, Ghisingh is just a caretaker. Suppose, you have a property and appoint somebody a caretaker ' what will be his power' Just to look after the property, maintain it and protect it. Ghisingh will not be more than that,' Bhattacharya said.

'We, however, do not want to spend much time on Ghisingh's power and how he will run the council. Rather, we are gearing up ourselves to hold the election within six months. We are determined to hold the election come what may,' the minister added.

DGHC probe

The government has ordered a probe into the DGHC's role in withdrawing cash from the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan fund. On Saturday, the council had taken Rs 2.16 crore from the fund and distributed a part of the amount to some schools.

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