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Scrap GTA board: GNLF

Darjeeling: The GNLF president, Mann Ghisingh, on Sunday called for the dissolution of the board of administrators of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration in order to facilitate a permanent solution to the hill issue.

The GNLF chief made the statement at a meeting to observe the third death anniversary of the party's founder and his father, Subash Ghisingh.

Mann Ghisingh suggested that the GTA BoA, which was set up by the state government with rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Binay Tamang as its chairman, could be a hindrance to solving the hill problem.

"I will, from this platform, tell the chief minister of West Bengal Miss Mamata Banerjee to dissolve the board of administrators of the GTA immediately. Till the problem of our hills is resolved, the board should not be in existence. This (the board) could take a very dangerous turn in the future. It will be difficult to maintain peace. I have so far helped in maintaining the peace," he told the gathering at the Motor Stand here.

Later, Ghisingh iterated before journalists the GNLF's long-standing demand of granting Sixth Schedule status to the hills. "We will go for Sixth Schedule. The GNLF is always for the Sixth Schedule... So, we are trying. The negotiations are still going. Let us see. I will not be able to tell you anything now," he said.

Subash Ghisingh had died on January 29, 2015, but the death anniversary was observed a day in advance to enable maximum people to attend the event since it was a Sunday.

Intelligence sources pegged the turnout at about 10,000, which makes it a biggest turnout at any GNLF gathering in more than a decade. The GNLF president himself was surprised by the response. "Till yesterday (Saturday), I had fears (about the turnout)... However, I also had a belief that this could happen," he said.

A political analyst said Sunday's gathering was a clear signal to the decline of the divided Morcha. "The GNLF on Sunday definitely proved that it could provide an alternative to the Morcha. It may not enjoy the mass support of the pre-Morcha days, but it will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in hill politics in days to come. The perception that the GNLF was dead and buried does not hold true anymore," he said.

The public meeting was turned into a belated tribute to the memory of Ghisingh Senior as speaker after speaker sang hosannas on the former Gorkha leader. Mann, too, spoke emotionally about his father. "My father always taught me to be honest. He used to tell me that money couldn't buy people. Today, he stands vindicated," he said.

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