No polls to GTA till areas in plains included: GJM
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Last Updated: Friday, March 23, 2012, 18:30
Mirik: On the eve of talks with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the GJM on Friday remained firm that elections to the new hill council, GTA, could not be held till Gorkha-dominated areas in the plains in the Terai and Dooars were added to its jurisdiction.

But in a concession to the state government, GJM president Bimal Gurung said that instead of elections to a two-tier panchayat under the Gorkha Territorial Administration, as the new hill council is known, three-tier panchayat elections could be held in the Darjeeling hills.

"The rural polls can be held for a three-tier panchayat body, but not the existing two-tier one," he said.

"The GJM is firm on its stance that there will be no election to the GTA until the 'moujas' across the Terai-Dooars are included in the jurisdiction of the GTA," Gurung said.

The GTA Bill received assent from President Pratibha Patel on March 7. The hill council runs the administration in the Darjeeling hills.

Senior CPI(M) leader and former urban development minister Ashok Bhattacharjee, however, opposed this.

Bhattacharjee said in Siliguri yesterday that the elections could only be held to a two-tier panchayat with the existing hill council, Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC), having been provided zila parishad status under the 1988 DGHC agreement.

Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh had said on March 7 that the election to the GTA was likely to be completed in about three months from the date of gazette notification.

Delimitation, draft publication, hearing of objections, defining of constituencies and nominations would follow, he had said.

The GTA Bill was passed in the West Bengal Assembly on September two last year.

Earlier, the chief minister had held the Centre responsible for delay in securing presidential assent for the GTA bill. She had also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh subsequently.

The tripartite agreement was signed on July 18 last year in the presence of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Mamata Banerjee and GJM chief Bimal Gurung at Pintail village, near Siliguri.

The very next day, GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri had said that the election to the GTA would depend on the inclusion of 400 moujas from the Terai and Dooars plains of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling district.

Putting the GTA implementation ball in the state government's court, Giri had said that the delimitation process could not be carried out until additional areas from the plains were included in the GTA.


First Published: Friday, March 23, 2012, 18:30

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