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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 24 April 2024

Gorkhaland onus on BJP: BGPM chief Anit Thapa

Recently, the Bengal government announced that it would provide rights to 5 decimals of tea estate land to workers and settlers

Bireswar Banerjee Siliguri Published 19.09.23, 08:22 AM
People at the Mirik subdivision committee meeting in Soureni where Anit Thapa, the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha chief, who helms the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, spoke on Monday.

People at the Mirik subdivision committee meeting in Soureni where Anit Thapa, the Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha chief, who helms the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, spoke on Monday. The Telegraph

Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha chief Anit Thapa on Monday put pressure on lawmakers of the saffron camp in the hills on Sunday on the Gorkhaland demand and said it was their responsibility to see that the longstanding demand for the hill state is met.

“There is no point in shouting for Gorkhaland in the streets of Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills or calling a strike on the issue. This is a subject that the central government will have to take care of. As the BJP is in power in the Centre, it is the responsibility of the MP and MLAs of the hills who are from that party. They should take it up with the central government,” said Thapa at a party meeting at Soureni, around 35 kilometres from here at the Mirik subdivision of Darjeeling district.

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In the hills, Raju Bista, the Darjeeling MP, is from the BJP. Also, Neeraj Zimba and B.P. Sharma, the MLAs of Darjeeling and Kurseong, have won on BJP tickets.

Such an assertion from Thapa comes at a time when a number of Opposition parties in the hills, including the BJP, have thrown their support behind the demand of the tea workers to do away with a 5-decimal cap on their land rights.

Recently, the Bengal government announced that it would provide rights to 5 decimals of tea estate land to workers and settlers. This led to repercussions across tea gardens across the hills as the workers demanded that the state government should grant them rights to the entire patch of land held by each worker or settler which could be more than 5 decimals.

Political parties and a number of trade unions backed the demand. Questions were raised on the role of Thapa, known to have cordial relations with the state government and chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

The BGPM president, who is also the chief executive of the GTA, had initially backed the state government. But he changed his stand in view of the protests. He has taken up the issue with the state land and land reforms department and Bengal chief secretary.

The state government, in turn, stopped the survey of the land in tea gardens.

“The issue of land rights is a state subject and I have taken it up with the state government. I have spoken with senior officials and have apprised them that land rights to the workers should be provided on the entire land which they hold and not only on a mere 5-decimal area,” said Thapa.

“In a similar manner, the BJP legislators have the responsibility to take up the issue (of Gorkhaland) with the Centre,” he added.

On September 24, the BGPM will hold a public meeting in Darjeeling.

Thapa seems to be trying to do a balancing act regarding the protests against the 5-decimal land cap as well as the longstanding demand for Gorkhaland, political watchers in the hills said.

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