The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hill CPM guns for government

Darjeeling, Oct. 12: The CPM here has decided to voice its protest against the state government’s policy for the hills.

The move comes as an effort to salvage the party’s image especially in the wake of the government’s alleged understanding with the ruling GNLF. The Left Front government in Calcutta has long been accused of sharing a tacit relationship with Subash Ghisingh and the party has increasingly found itself cornered in the region.

“We are definitely facing a difficult situation with regard to the allegation of a strategic understanding here. This is why we are now putting pressure on the government to take strong note of the functioning of the DGHC,” said S.P. Lepcha, the secretary of the CPM’s Darjeeling district committee.

According to Lepcha, the problem is particularly pivoted on the issue of the indefinite extension that Ghisingh is enjoying as caretaker of the DGHC. The Marxists want immediate elections — of the DGHC and the panchayat — and a check on the undemocratic functioning of the GNLF chief. Elections to both the bodies have been suspended indefinitely.

“All elected representatives in the country have a tenure of five to six years and we demand that the policy of extension of elected office should come to and end in the hills,” said Lepcha. Hill leaders admitted that the party’s talk of democracy had always been looked at with scepticism because of its dual stand on this issue.

The party has also demanded that the Sixth Schedule Bill should be immediately placed in the Parliament and Lepcha informed that they would be pressuring the Centre on the matter.

Political observers are of the opinion that the CPM has been forced to take a strong anti-Ghisingh stand taking into consideration the rising anti-incumbency factor in the hills and the considerable gains made by the Opposition PDF in the recently concluded Assembly polls.

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