No polls to GTA till areas in plains included: GJM

GJM remained firm that elections to the new hill council, GTA, could not be held till Gorkha-dominated areas were added to its jurisdiction.

Updated: Mar 23, 2012, 18:30 PM IST

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

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

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.