Darjeeling, Nov. 21: The Opposition parties in the hills have decided to go ahead with their proposed four-day strike despite the CPM shifting the venue of its district conference.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, which has been clamouring for Gorkhaland, had earlier said the bandh was a protest against the Sixth Schedule status as well as chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit to the hill town to attend the party conference. The Morcha was formed more than a month ago by Bimal Gurung, an expelled GNLF leader.
Today, Binay Tamang, the press and publicity secretary of the Morcha, said: “Since the shutdown has been called to oppose the imposition of the Sixth Schedule status, we will go ahead with it. It has nothing to do with the CPM district conference.”
While a meeting between Darjeeling district magistrate Rajesh Pandey and Morcha leaders failed here this evening, the ABGL, which, too, has called a four-day bandh, refused to attend an all-party meeting called by the administration.
The GNLF, the main architect of the special status, has on the other hand announced that it would celebrate the inclusion of the Sixth Schedule bill in Parliament’s winter list of business by taking out rallies in town for the next seven days. The rally will start from the Kutchery area at 4pm tomorrow and will proceed toward Chowrastha. “We will do this for the next seven days,” said Deepak Gurung, president, GNLF Darjeeling Branch Committee.
But in Kalimpong subdivision, Subash Ghisingh’s party has called a 108-hour bandh beginning tomorrow. The purpose, senior leaders said, is to pressure the Centre into expediting the formalities needed to pass the bill. Though schools and colleges have been kept out of its purview along with essential services, NH31A — connecting Siliguri to Gangtok — has not been spared.
According to Tamang, the Morcha had asked for an assurance from Bhattacharjee that he would not discuss the special status in the hills. “Had he relented, we would have withdrawn the bandh. We also wanted him to promise that the bill would only be introduced in Parliament and would not be pursued further.”
But the CPM ruled out any chances of assurance from the chief minister and shifted the venue to an amusement park in Siliguri.