| The gathering at Chowk Bazar on Sunday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Darjeeling, Dec. 11: GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh today said the Sixth Schedule was in some ways better than statehood.
To the crowd of more than 2,000 people that had assembled at Chowk Bazar, the GNLF chief said he has fulfilled two demands (denoted by two of the three stars in the GNLF flag) ' one, the signing of the DGHC accord in 1988 and the other the memorandum of settlement.
The third star would also be fulfilled soon 'though the Sixth Schedule is better than a new state'.
'In a state there would have been a class divide ' the ministers and the common people. But in the case of the Sixth Schedule, there will be no such division,' Ghisingh.
According to the GNLF chief, when the Gorkhaland issue was raised in the 80s 'our own people had objected to the demand'.
'Now they are shouting for Gorkhaland. Why did they not support us then' We would probably have had the state by now,' he said
The leader, however, added that Sixth Schedule had fulfilled one important aspiration of the hill people which would have been impossible in a state.
'The essence of communities like the Rais, Mangars, Gurungs and Pradhans can only be represented by the Sixth Schedule. A state would not have been apt,' he added.
Though the leader deliberated at length on the agreement, he refrained from disclosing the powers and functions that he would seek for the new body. 'A bill will be brought in the Parliament in the next session. Right now, the goat (denoting the special status) has been slain. The skinning and cleaning will follow,' he said.
Though much of Ghisingh's speech on the new status was shrouded in ambiguity, the GNLF leader said he has requested the state government to consider Mahanadi or NH 31 as natural boundaries of the area to be covered by the new body.
The GNLF chief, however, was clear about his threats to the Opposition and journalists.
'Beware, I come from an army background and know how to use guns,' he said.
To the Opposition parties he said: 'There is much power in a khukuri. Keep shut now. Since we have brought the Sixth Schedule, we will supply you with thongba (alcoholic drink) or else there could be violence, a lot of bloodshed,' he said.
Ghisingh said he was 'warning' the media personnel so that they do not regret the consequences later. He said currently the power to handle the media has been given to the branch committees. 'But when I take over, things won't be the same. I won't be lenient like them.'