Opposition leaders in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) staged a walkout from the Sabha meeting on Monday after their proposal to object to the state government’s motion against the division of Bengal was not considered by the house.
In the 45-member GTA Sabha, the Opposition has 9 Sabha members, who include Sabha members from the Hamro Party and a member supported by Bimal Gurung’s Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, and Binay Tamang, who won the election on a Trinamul ticket but is unattached with any political party at the moment.
Tamang said that at the end of the meeting, he asked the GTA Sabha to pass a resolution against the February 20 motion of the state government against the division of the state.
“We are of the opinion that our GTA Sabha should pass a resolution against the state motion. However, the GTA Sabha did not respond and this is why we had to stage a walkout,” said Tamang.
The demand for statehood is an emotive issue in the hills, supported by almost all the hill-based political parties.
Tamang further added that they also wanted the GTA Sabha to condemn a remark reportedly made by a Bengal MLA on Nepalis and Adivasis.
According to Ajoy Edwards, the president of the Hamro Party, Anjul Chowhan, the chairman of the GTA Sabha, dismissed the statement as a "personal" political remark of the MLA.
“GTA Sabha represents our people. And since the statement about our community was made in the Assembly, we had wanted the Sabha to pass a resolution. However, it is clear that the GTA Sabha cannot take on the Bengal Assembly and are scared of the Bengal government,” said Edwards.
The Opposition is likely to raise these two issues during their campaign for rural polls which are scheduled to be held in the Darjeeling hills after a gap of 22 years.
Rajesh Chouhan, deputy chairman of the GTA Sabha, however, said the Opposition members walked out even before listening to what the House had to say.
“They placed their demand and walked out even before hearing what the House had to say,” said Chouhan.
He further added that seven agendas were listed for the Sabha.
They included the ratification of the decisions taken at the executive Sabha meetings held on November 28, 2022, and March 13, 2023, as well as other proposals from finance, education, tourism and rural infrastructure development departments.
“A proposal to grant the ownership of agricultural land to the workers in tea and cinchona plantation areas was also taken. The draft of rules of procedures and conduct of business in the GTA was also placed at the meeting,” said a source.