Minister floats formula to break Darjeeling hill deadlock
Siliguri: With the Gorkha Janamukti
Morcha set to launch a fresh movement in Darjeeling from
tomorrow, state Urban Development Minister Asoke Bhattacharya
proposed a formula to resolve the deadlock over modalities for
substituting the existing hill council by an interim set-up.
With elections to the local bodies in the hills long
overdue, Bhattacharya, who represents Siliguri constituency,
has suggested linking proportionate representation of the
parties to the results of the panchayat and the municipal
The setting up of an interim set-up for two years as a
substitute for the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council
(DGHC) with greater autonomy and power, was resolved at the
recent political level tripartite meeting in New Delhi where
GJM chief Bimal Gurung was present.
The GJM is demanding setting up of the interim council
by December 20.
Although a solution was found to give greater autonomy
to the hills without dividing the state after a series of
tripartite talks, its implementation hit a bottleneck as the
West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was in
favour of a democratic process to set up the interim council.
However, the GJM was against holding any election and
wanted to form the set-up with its nominated members only.
The GJM has announced closure of all government and
non-government offices from tomorrow and a 48-hour bandh in
the Darjeeling hills from December 21 if the set-up was not in
place by December 20.
Bhattacharya told PTI today that a democratic process
would have to be followed as there were other political
parties in the hills and the GJM could not be taken to
represent the sole authority of the hill people.
"If they were unwilling to go for polls to form the
set-up they could go for election for the two-tier panchayet
and municipal polls which were long due. On the basis of
proportionate result of political parties, the set-up could be
formed," he said.
Elections to the municipal body has not been held for
the last three years since the GJM came to power.
When asked whether it was an official proposal,
Bhattacharya said that it was his "personal proposal" keeping
in mind the principal of the Raya Sabha polls.
A party spokesman when contacted said the GJM was not
interested to comment on anybody`s personal proposal. "We can
discuss it if it comes to us officially," he added.
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