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25 Aug 2016

GJM vice president Pradip Pradhan quits to join Trinamool

EOI, DARJEELING 24 Aug 2016: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today received a major blow after the party’s vice president, Bhupendra (Pradip) Pradhan, who is also one of its founding members, quit to join the Trinamool Congress. Following this, the GJM central leadership called an emergency meeting and expelled the rebel leader from the party's primary membership and also his post.
Pradhan had kept speculations up since the last couple of days. The first news of him quitting the GJM came on Monday via a social networking site. And on Tuesday, the rumour gained momentum,  after he drove down to Sukna to meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee. All these days however, Pradhan, who is also the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha chairman, had denied of nurturing thoughts of quitting asserting instead he would remain with the GJM. In fact, on Tuesday, GJM president Bimal Gurung had called on Pradhan at his residence in Naya Bazar, Kurseong to check on his health.
Pradhan, while accepting the TMC flag in a public meeting in Kurseong today, claimed that the GJM-run GTA had failed to work for the people and this was the primary factor behind his decision to quit.
“I am from Kurseong but I could not do anything for my area in spite of being a GTA Sabhasad and the GJM vice president. I have spent from my pocket, but the GTA has not done anything on the promises it has made,” he alleged.
Recollecting the formative days of his former party, the rebel leader said, “Much before October 7, 2007 when the GJM was formed, I had already laid the base for the party in the hills. At that time, the GJM  was a non-entity and so was its president. In fact, I was the one who made Gurung what he is today."
Pradhan asserted he would continue to work for the Gorkhaland demand even though he had joined an anti-statehood party. “I know I am joining a party that is opposed to the separate statehood demand and I have all the martyrs in mind. But then, Gurung and his party are not sincere about the statehood demand which is why I quit,” he said. “I am also a Gorkha and want a separate state. And if an honest leader comes along I will extend that person my support. But I assert the GJM will not start another agitation as there is money to be had in the GTA,” added the Sabhasad who represents  the Pandam-Phoobshering constituency.
Addressing a huge crowd at the railway station in the heart of Kurseong town, Pradhan blamed the GJM for not developing the area even as he promised to work for the people.
“The GJM promised a lot of things for Kurseong but not one single word has been kept. I have talked to the chief minister who has assured to extend all support to me to develop this area,” he said.
Pradhan howeverm said he would leave the TMC too if it failed to live up to the assurances given to him. “I have seen two chief ministers. I have joined the TMC only because of the assurances given by the present CM. But if I find the promises are not kept I will leave the TMC too,” he said.
State minister and senior TMC leader, Arup Biswas, while handing the party’s flag to 500 families who quit the GJM, announced Pradhan as the Kurseong (hill) TMC chairman. The minister fired a fresh salvo  on the GJM aiming at its misrule. “The GJM party has failed to work for the people even though the state government is providing funds. The GJM president issues threats of quitting when elections are near,  this shows his hollowness. This way, it will be the people who will retire him in the coming days,” he said.
Reacting to the development, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said the party was strong and united and would not be affected by Pradhan's departure. “He was inactive in the party. His leaving us will not affect our party in any way,” he said after attending the party’s central committee meeting to decide on Pradhan’s fate that also discussed ways to move forward with the statehood demand and how to tackle the present political scenario. 

Morcha to oust Pradhan.... JISTO Movement Committee, burnt effigy of Giri

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 24: The central committee of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today decided to expel Bhupendra Pradhan, popularly known as Pradip Pradhan, who switched to Trinamul today, from the party.
Soon after the central committee session, the GTA Sabha members met at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan and submitted a written request to the GTA Sabha vice-chairman, Lopsang Yolmo, to convene a special meeting where, sources said, they would seek the removal of Pradhan as the GTA chairman.
The meeting is likely to be held on August 26.
Morcha general secretary and the GTA Sabha member in-charge of education, Roshan Giri, said: "At the central committee meeting, we discussed the Gorkhaland issue. The party has also decided to expel Pradip Pradhan from the primary membership."
A source in the GTA said: "According to Section 37 of the GTA Act, a special meeting can be requisitioned by one-third of the Sabha members and once the vice-chairman convenes a meeting, the chairman can be removed by a resolution adopted by a simple majority of the total number of elected members of the GTA Sabha."
There are 45 elected members in the GTA Sabha.
The Morcha has also decided to hold a public meeting in Kurseong on Sunday.
According to sources, the move is an attempt to boost the morale of party cadres in the area and counter the Trinamul gathering where Pradhan switched allegiance.
Today, around 300 voluntary teachers, who were members of the Janmukti Insecure Secondary Teachers' Organisation (JISTO) Movement Committee, burnt the effigy of Giri here before resigning from the Morcha.
The hill party had disbanded the Movement Committee last month after some of the members had criticised Giri alleging that he had not been working towards regularising the jobs of the 500-odd voluntary teachers in more than 120 schools across the hills.
Amit Gurung, the co-ordinator of the erstwhile Movement Committee, said: "We burnt the effigy of Roshan Giri today. Around 300 members have resigned from the party. We will soon meet chief minister Mamata Banerjee and decide our future course of action."
The teachers have decided to remain apolitical at the moment, sources said.
Told about the development, Giri said: "If by burning my effigy, their jobs are regularised, they are most welcome to burn my effigy everyday."
At Darjeeling Motor Stand, the Gorkha Janmukti Vidyarthi Morcha started a relay hunger strike "for Gorkhaland" today with seven student leaders participating in it.
Satyam Lama, the president of the Vidyarthi Morcha, said: "Our hunger strike is a message that our agitation is democratic in nature. We demand that the Centre open a dialogue on Gorkhaland and efforts be taken to constitute a committee to look into our demand."

Morcha old horse in TMC

Vivek Chhetri, TT,  Darjeeling, Aug. 24: Bhupendra Pradhan, a founder member of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the GTA chairperson, today joined Trinamul, blaming the hill party for failing to deliver on its promise of development.
Pradhan, who is better known as Pradip, joined the state's ruling party in the public meeting at the Kurseong Motor Stand in the presence of Trinamul minister Aroop Biswas.
Pradhan said his decision to join the Trinamul was to ensure development in the hills, particularly Kurseong. He accused the Morcha of failing to carry out any development work in the past four years.
The GTA elections are expected to be held around July 2017. The Morcha today decided to expel Pradhan.
The hill leader arrived at the venue in the car of Biswas, who is Trinamul's observer for north Bengal.
He said the Morcha leadership was not sincere about the Gorkhaland demand and added that if a sincere leader comes ahead for statehood, he would definitely support the demand.
"In the past four years, we have been able to do nothing for the hills. I have had a talk with Mamata Banerjee and she has promised to look into issues related to the development of Kurseong. I have also raised the issue of granting district status to Kurseong. I am confident that with the TMC, there will be development here," Pradhan said.
He, however, said that if development was not ushered in even by Trinamul, he could think of leaving his new party too.
Pradhan accused the Morcha of corruption, saying some party leaders "did not have the means to even buy a good brand of cigarettes" but now "when they go to Bagdogra airport they enquire about the cost of a helicopter run by the Sikkim government. Where has this confidence come from?"
At the sidelines of the meeting, Pradhan said Bimal Gurung would not resign from the GTA as he had recently threatened. "He will not resign, note it down, as there is money in GTA," Pradhan said.
Pradhan urged the people to ponder over why Harka Bahadur Chhetri, Anmole Prasad, Trilok Dewan and Amar Lama had left the hill's biggest party.
Pradhan said in the next three months, the Morcha will have "only 20 per cent support" in the hills.

Gurung quit statement a gimmick: CM- Mamata warns against armed movement

Mamata Banerjee at Sukna on Wednesday. Picture by Kundan Yolmo
Bireswar Banerjee, TT, Siliguri, Aug. 24: Mamata Banerjee today termed as "political gimmick" Bimal Gurung's recent announcement that he would quit the GTA within three months.
The GTA chief executive had said on August 18 that he would quit the hill body "in the next two to two-and-a-half months" and start an agitation for a separate state.
Gurung had told a news conference that he was making the statement without consulting other GTA Sabha members or the central committee of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
Asked about Gurung's statement, Mamata said at Sukna today: "This is just a political gimmick because whenever an election approaches in the hills, such announcements are made, as if they are opting for a voluntary retirement scheme. Municipality elections are due in January or February next year in the hills. Panchayat polls are also scheduled for that time, after which election to the GTA will be held."
During the last phase of the Gorkhaland movement in 2013, Gurung had resigned as the chief executive of the hill body on July 30 but again assumed office on December 26 the same year.
Gurung had repeatedly been saying at almost every public meeting that he was not interested in any position. "If I was bothered about the GTA chair, I could have developed a very close relation with the state government and lived comfortably," Gurung said on August 18.
Mamata said today that there was no place for armed movements in a democracy. She said any armed movement in the hills would be dealt with according to the law.
"I am always in favour of development and against any armed movement. But it is under some influence or sometime even with the help of Delhi that such issues are raised, which I think common people of the hills will not support. So many tourists are expected to come to the hills during Durga Puja and Diwali, which will help generate income for traders and residents. In case there is an armed movement, the law will take its own course," she said.
Gurung hadn't said yet that he would launch an armed movement for Gorkhaland.
Asked about the kind of agitation he had in mind on August 18, the Morcha president said: "The type of agitation, its form, everything will be known as and when it is decided."
Addressing a public meeting in Darjeeling on August 7, the Morcha president had urged the hills youths to "talk their hearts out", making an indirect reference to a movement.
Today, Mamata didn't refer to any of those statements by Gurung.
She welcomed GTA Sabha chairman and Morcha vice-president Pradip Pradhan joining Trinamul Congress today.
"There are so many talented people in the hills. They should come forward and take part in the development of the hills, which are lagging behind in growth by more than 25 years. We are discharging our duties and responsibilities. If we get a chance in future, we will make the hills prosperous," said Mamata.
Mamata said she might visit Kalimpong in September. "There is an annual programme of Lepcha community in Kalimpong and apart from that, Kalimpong will be a new district. Keeping these things in view, I may visit Kalimpong next month," she said.
Asked about Mamata's comments: Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: "It is our right to decide when to resign or not. We don't need to seek permission from Mamata Banerjee in this regard."
He went on: "The demand of Gorkhaland has not been dropped and this has also been mentioned in the memorandum of agreement of the GTA. It is our constitutional and democratic right to demand Gorkhaland. Our agitation will be peaceful and democratic in nature."
Referring to Mamata's statement that municipal and panchayat polls would be held simultaneously early next year in the hills, he said: "We believe in democratic processes. Regarding, panchayat elections, it has been mentioned in the GTA agreement that a three-tier election will be held in the hills. We will welcome the three-tier election as we want the state government to honour the GTA agreement."

For 16km, husband shoulders body - Kalahandi authorities turn down pleas to arrange for ambulance

Daana Majhi carries the body of his wife on his shoulders at Sagada village, 16km from
Bhawanipatna town, on Wednesday. Telegraph picture
Subhashish Mohanty, TT, Bhubaneswar, Aug. 24: The shocking plight of a man who was forced to carry the body of his wife on his shoulders for 16km has exploded in the face of a government that boasts of taking care of its people from the cradle to the grave.
Daana Majhi, 48, a tribal and resident of Melagahara village in Kalahandi's Thuamul Rampur block, was left with no option but to carry Amanga Dei Majhi, 42, on his shoulders when the administration failed to provide him an ambulance or a hearse vehicle.
Tuberculosis patient Amanga died earlier in the day at the district headquarters hospital in Bhawanipatna town, which is 60km from Melagahara.
Officials sources said Daana had brought his ailing wife to the district headquarters hospital yesterday as her condition had deteriorated. By evening she turned critical and died after midnight. Daana was informed about his wife's death around 1am today.
When Daana reached the hospital to bring back the body, he had expected the district health care authorities to help him.
Daana said: "I pleaded with the hospital authorities to arrange for a vehicle or an ambulance to carry the body. But as no one came forward to help me, I decided to carry the body on my shoulder to the village for cremation."
It is ironical that Daana was left to carry the body even when the state government's has in place the Mahaprayana scheme to ferry bodies for free. All district hospitals have dedicated ambulances for the scheme.
It is another matter that a new ambulance is lying unutilised at Kalahandi district headquarters hospital as none of the ministers nor the local MLA has time to inaugurate it.
With dawn still a few hours away, Daana set out on his journey with the body of his wife on his shoulder. He had for company the eldest among his three daughters, Sanadei Manjhi, 12.
As the day broke, he walked on carrying the burden of his dead wife.
Around 9.30am and 16km into the journey, a few residents of Sagada, a tiny roadside settlement, came to his rescue when they saw Daana struggling to maintain balance with the corpse on his shoulder.
"When we saw him struggling to carry the body, we immediately pleaded with the district collector and a few other influential persons for help. When no help came forth, we spoke to the Lanjigarh MLA. The MLA responded and sent his political representative Gobinda Pradhan. He used his good offices and an ambulance was arranged," said journalist Ajit Singh.
Pradhan said that apart from arranging the ambulance, Daana was also given some financial assistance.
As the incident snowballed into a controversy, Kalahandi district collector Brunda D. announced that Daana would be given Rs 10,000 from the Red Cross fund as assistance.
Speaking to The Telegraph, chief district medical officer of Kalahandi Braja Kishore Brahma, however, blamed Daana for the incident.
"Without intimating us, Daana took away his wife's body," he said.
On being asked how Daana could take away the body in the presence of hospital employees and security staff, Brahma said the issue would be looked into.
A similar incident had taken place in Nabarangpur district in May when unable to arrange a hearse, a body had to be carried on the pillion seat of a motorcycle by the family members of the deceased.

Bigoted nationalism enters womb - Surrogacy bar with barbs

Ananya Sengupta, TT, New Delhi, Aug. 24: The BJP-led government has cleared a bill that seeks to replace commercial surrogacy with an altruistic alternative but proposes to bar single persons, homosexuals, live-in partners from experiencing parenthood through the same option. The Surrogacy (Regulation) Bill, 2016 permits only "close relatives" to become surrogate mothers and only married couples with no children to be parents.
In the process, senior minister Sushma Swaraj also articulated the prejudices associated with the Narendra Modi government by making a series of sweeping statements promoting stereotypes and shutting out marginalised sections of the society.
♦ Swaraj made it clear her government did not approve of a child outside the domain of "legal marriage between a male and a female".
* The minister said: "Unmarried couples, single parents, live-in partners and homosexuals cannot opt for surrogacy as per the new bill.... You can say it (allowing homosexuals to have a surrogate child) is looking forward and we can say this doesn't go with our ethos."

♦ Another declaration by the foreign minister: "We do not recognise live-in relationships and homosexuality. We don't want to give them this entitlement."
♦ Swaraj added: "The bill allows surrogacy only for necessity, not for luxury or fashion as we have seen repeatedly."
Several activists welcomed the idea of regulating surrogacy, which has triggered allegations of several unethical practices, exploitation of poor women and abandonment of girl children. But they added that Swaraj could have avoided the statements that would further stigmatise sections of the citizenry.

The proposed bill will deal a blow to infertile couples unable to find the service for free, sections of doctors in infertility treatment services said today.
Swaraj called on " ma, bhabhi, mausi, mami" (mother, sister-in-law and aunts) to carry the child of their childless relatives with no expectation of monetary incentives.
Under the Juvenile Justice Act, everyone has the right to adopt a child, irrespective of their marital status.
"The cabinet has approved the bill and it will be introduced in the next session of Parliament," Swaraj said.
Swaraj said an estimate had put the number of surrogacy clinics in the country at 2,000. "What is happening is against the laws of nature and only to mint money," she said.
Fees ranging from Rs 70,000 to Rs 6 lakh are usually charged in the name of surrogate mothers for each pregnancy, making it a lucrative hunting ground for exploiters.
Commercial surrogacy is banned in several developed countries, including the UK, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Sweden, New Zealand and Japan.
Swaraj said the surrogacy bill was loosely based on the law in the UK, where only blood relatives of commissioning parents can be their surrogates.
The UK law recognises the birth mother as the legal mother. Under the Indian bill, the commissioning parents are the legal parents under the bill.
Reacting to Swaraj's comments, Harish Iyer, a LGBT rights activist tweeted - "@SushmaSwaraj ... against Indian ethos is the most anti-national statement I have heard. How can you call my country homophobic?"
"How will you implement a complete ban? This is a situation akin to the organ racket in India where though it is forbidden it still thrives illegally," says Ranjana Kumari of Centre for Social Research.
CSR had organised a National Conference on Surrogacy two years ago in which they had sought to generate awareness about the issue. "We wanted rights of the surrogate secured, removal of the middle-man among other things. However the Bill in its current form is an extreme one. We have taken four steps backwards today," Kumari said.
A group of surrogate mothers, who had approached the National Commission for Women last year after a draft of this bill was made public, today told this newspaper how the government was taking away their livelihood from them.
Manu, a surrogate from Bengal who was paid around Rs 3.5 lakh to be a surrogate for the baby of a couple from the USA last year, said that nothing was done without her consent.
"I was paid Rs 10,000 for nine months and got a total pay of Rs 3.5 lakh when I delivered. I have no complaints. I used to earn Rs 6000 a month as a maid and I have a husband who is physically handicapped. This money enabled me to send my children to school and to build a house. This is my choice," she said.
Congress leader, Milind Deora expressed a similar sentiment.
"Preventing misuse essential but why deny parents & surrogate mothers freedom of choice & discriminate based on marital status?," he tweeted.

गोजमुमोमा भुइचालो: अंतत: प्रदिप (भुपेन्द्र)प्रधान तृणमूल कांग्रेसमै पसे

राजेश शर्मा, कालिमन्युज, खर्साङ, 24 अगस्त 2016। गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चाका अर्का शिर्षस्थ नेता तथा गोजमूमोद्वारा संचालित गोर्खाल्याण्ड क्षेत्रिय प्रशासन सभा (जीटीएसभा) का अध्यक्ष भुपेन्द्र उर्फ प्रदिप प्रधानले गोजमुमो छोडेर सर्वभारतिय तृणमूल कांग्रेसको झण्डा समाते।
गोजमुमो अध्यक्ष बिमल गुरुङ्ले जसको विरोध गरिरहेछन त्यही पार्टीमा पसेर् प्रदिप प्रधानले बिमल गुरुङलाई चुनौति दिए। आज सर्वभारतिय तृणमूल कांग्रेसको पहाड खण्ड्को एक सार्वजनिक सभामा तिनले राज्यका खेल, मार्ग अनि सडक अनि पार्वत्य मामिलाका मंत्री अरूप विश्वासबाट तृणमूल कांग्रेसको झण्डा ग्रहण गरे।
खर्साङको मोटरस्ट्याण्ड्मा आयोजित उक्त सभामा गोजमुमो पार्टिका संस्थापक अनि गोजमुमो कन्द्रिय समितिका उपाध्यक्ष प्रधानले पार्टीको झण्डा ग्रहण गर्दै पहाडमा अर्को एउटा नयाँ राजनैतिक मोड़को संकेत दिएका छन।
गोजमुमोको पक्षमा भोट जितेर चुनिएको जनप्रतिनिधि भएर पनि गत चार साल भित्रमा जीटीए मार्फत कुनै जनहितार्थ काम गर्न असक्षम भएको र पार्टीलेनै कुनै मौका नदिएको कारण वाध्य भएर गोजमुमो छोडेको तिनले आज उक्त सभामा बताए। तिनले भने "नत बिमल गुरुङ्ले नै पहाडको हितको निम्ति काम गरे नत मलाई काम गर्न दिए ।"
बिमल गुरुङप्रति विभिन्न आरोप लगाउदै गोजमुमोले पहाड़मा विकास गर्न छोडेको देखे पछि नै बिमल गुरुङको निम्ति मरि नमेटने बाचा गरेको तिनले आजको सभामा बताए ।
प्रधानले भने "आज पहाड़को हितको निम्ति बंगालका मुख्य मंत्री ममता ब्यानर्जीले 16 कड़ोर रकम दिइसकेका छन तर उक्त रकमले पहाड़मा सर्वांगिन विकासको नाममा गोजमुमो र ज़ीटीएले कुनै काम गरेन।"
"खर्सांग नगरपालिकाको कुनै क्षेत्रमा पनि विकास भएको छैन तर ममता ब्यानर्जी र तृणमूल कांग्रेसले आजसम्म जन हितको निम्ति नै काम गरि रहेको छ यो कुरो अब सम्पूर्णजनताले बुझनु पर्छ," प्रधानले भने। "पहाड़को बिकासको नाममा ल्याएको आर्थीक सहयोग जनता समक्ष नपुगेको देखेर नै म वाध्य भएर तृणमूल पार्टीको झण्डा पकड़ीएको हुँ", तिनले अझै भने ।
बिमल गुरुङले पहाड़को निम्ति आजसम्म कुनै विकासको या जनहितको काम गरेको छैन् बरु दागोपापको समयमा नै पहाड़मा धेर थोर विकासको काम ठोकुवा गर्दै तिनले भने "रोहिणीको बाटो, पारिजात गेस्ट हाउस, भानु भवन, लालकोठी समेत सबै सुभास घिसिङको समयमा भएको विकासको उदाहरणहरु हुन। विकासको निम्ति नै भूपेन्द्र प्रधान (प्रदिप प्रधान)ले मा –माटी –मानूसको पार्टीको झण्डा पक्रीएको हो " ।
प्रधानले भने, "म ममता ब्यानर्जीलाई भेटन जान भन्दा अघि बिमल गुरुङ मेरो घरमा आएको थिए तर चार बर्ष सम्म बिमल गुरुङलाई किन मेरो समझना आएन । यसैले मैले बिमल गुरुङलाई साथ नदिने निर्णय लिएको हुँ । त्यस दिन बिमल गुरुङले मलाई धेरै प्रलोभन पनि दिएका थिए तर उक्त प्रलोभनलाई त्यागेर मैले आज मुख्य मंत्री ममता ब्यानर्जीलाई भेटन सुकुना गए । ममता ब्यानर्जी तिनी मुख्य मंत्री भएर पनि मलाई भेटन 2 घण्टा सम्म प्रतिक्षा गरिरहेकि थिइन। मैले ममता ब्यानर्जी संगको भेटमा खर्साङको विकासको निम्ति एउटा माग पत्र चड़ाएको छु ।"
मुख्य मंत्री समक्ष खर्साङलाई जिल्ला बनाउने, महकुमा अस्पताललाई बडोत्री गर्ने अनि तिनधारेको बाटोघाटो लगायत अन्यको विकास गर्ने माग राखेको तिनले बताए ।
राजनैतिक क्षेत्रमा पिताको समय देखी नै आफु लागी परेको अनि बिमल गुरुङको निम्ति आज सम्म मरि मेटेको अनि बिमल गुरुङलाई चिनाउदै लाने काममा कुनै कसर नछोडेको पनि तिनले आफ्नो वक्तब्यमा थप बताए। तर आफुले जनताको निम्ति केहि गर्न नसकेकोमा नै असंतुष्ट भएको कारण अब केही ठोस काम जनताको निम्ति गर्ने लक्ष्य राखेर तृणमूलमा सामेल भएको तिनले बताए।

आउने दिनमा गोजमुमोलाई जनताले पहाड़देखि अवस्य हटाउनेछन् - मत्री अरुप विश्वास

राजेश शर्मा, कालिमन्युज, खरसाङ्ग, 24 अगस्त 2016। पहाडमा अब जनताले खास कुरो बुझिसकेका छन यसैले जसरी पहाड़ देखि बिगत दिनमा घिसिङलाई बिमल गुरुङले लखेटे त्यसरीनै पहाड़ देखी बिमल गुरुङ पनि आफै लखेटिनू पर्छ । आज खेलकुद मंत्री अरुप बिश्वासले खर्सांग मोटर स्ट्याण्डमा आयोजित हिल तृणमूल काग्रेसको एक जनसभालाई सम्बोधन गर्दै उक्त कुरो भनेका हुन।
यस अवसरमा तिनले भने क़ि ममता सरकारद्वारा पहाड़मा बिकासको निम्ति जीटीएलाई धेरै आर्थीक सहायता दिइएको थियो तर आज सम्म कुनै क्षेत्रमा पनि सानो विकासको काम पनि भएको छैन्। गोजमुमो, बिमल गुरुङ अनि जिटिए प्रति कुनै विकासको काम नगरेको आरोप थोप्दै तिनले भने पहाडमा विकास ल्याउनु हो भने पहाड़मा तृणमूल काग्रेसको लहरनै आउनु पर्छ तृणमूल काग्रेसनै फस्टिनु पर्छ ।
आजको सभामा गोजमुमो उपाध्यक्ष तथा जीटीए सभा अध्यक्ष भूपेन्द्र प्रधान (प्रदिप प्रधान) ले आफ्नो दलको साथमा हिल तृणमूल काग्रेस पार्टी अध्यक्ष राजेन मुखिया, महासचिव एनबी खवास अनि विन्नी शर्माको उपस्थितिमा मंत्री अरुप विश्वासको हातबाट् पार्टीको झण्डा ग्रहण गरे। तिनीसंगै नारी मोर्चाका शान्ता थापा, माधुरी प्रधान तथा चुन्नु सिंघ, कमल थापा अन्यहरुले गोजमुमो छोड़ेर तृणमूल काग्रेस पार्टीमा सामेल भए।
पूर्व विधायिका शान्ता छेत्रीको सभापतित्वमा आयोजित कार्यक्रममा तृणमूल काग्रेसका नेताहरु लगायत समर्थक अनि जनसभा सुन्नको निम्ति खर्साङका हजारौ जनता उपस्थित थिए।
यता आजनै भूपेन्द्र प्रधानलाई खर्साङ तृणमूल काग्रेसको अध्यक्ष चुनिएको थाहा लागेकोछ।

24 Aug 2016

Book Review: 'Nonviolent Revolt in the Twenty-First Century'

KalimNews, Kalimpong , 24 August 2016: Book review on "This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-first Century " by Robert J. Burrowes:
I sometimes wonder whether one of the ways in which 'Amercian exceptionalism' manifests is that many US scholars and others are unable to consider the contributions of those who are not from the USA. For example, I routinely read about studies of Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates (such as strategist James Lawson) in relation to nonviolence while the much more insightful and vastly greater contributions of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on the same subject are largely ignored by US scholars (although not, for example, by Professor Mary E. King, one of the best in the field).

I have just read another book that falls into this trap: This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-first Century http://www.publicaffairsbooks.com/book/hardcover/this-is-an-uprising/9781568587332 written by Mark Engler and Paul Engler.

In this book, the authors try too hard to make nonviolent action fit into a model they have created by combining thoughts from a few (US) authors – essentially Saul Alinsky, Frances Fox Piven and Gene Sharp – to describe an approach to change based on structure-based organizing, momentum-driven revolt and the creation of prefigurative community. They then use a few case studies, all of which (including the campaigns of the US civil rights struggle) are from the USA except for the Otpor struggle to overthrow the Milosevic regime in Serbia and the struggle of the April 6 Youth Movement and its allies to remove the Mubarak regime in Egypt, to illustrate their argument.

So, as you now expect me to identify, one fundamental weakness of this book, obviously shared by each of the (US) reviewers praising it, is that the authors did not study the strategic thinking of Gandhi. This is obvious from the text but a quick search through the endnotes (which mention Gandhi's An Autobiography and not one other document written by him) confirms it. Consequently, insights of Gandhi in relation to creating the empowered individual, community organizing (from village to national level) and the application of strategic nonviolent action are either ignored or attributed to those who either copied him (perhaps unconsciously), plagiarized him or, at best, reinvented the wheel many decades later.

Bizarrely, late in the book the Englers credit Gandhi: 'to sustain his work over a period of more than fifty years, Gandhi used a full range of social movement approaches, including structure, momentum-driven organization, and the creation of prefigurative community…. But one of the most compelling aspects of his legacy is his interest in unifying all three.' It is a pity that they did not study Gandhi so that they could explain in detail his own vital role, rather than those of the pale shadows who imperfectly followed him.

The incorrect attribution of Gandhi's insights to others starts on page 3 of the book where Gene Sharp is credited with an 'epiphany …  that nonviolence should not be simply a moral code for a small group of true believers to live by'. But it is not exclusively the fault of the authors that they incorrectly attribute Sharp because Sharp himself claims credit for this insight and they cite his claim, from an interview conducted in 2003, on page 4.

However, given that Sharp started his research into nonviolence three decades after Gandhi was mobilizing millions of Indians in major campaigns of nonviolent resistance to the British occupation of India and five decades after Gandhi was mobilizing thousands of Indians in campaigns of nonviolent resistance to injustices perpetrated on Indians in South Africa and during which Gandhi clearly articulated his awareness and acceptance of the fact that most of his fellow satyagrahis only followed nonviolence as a 'policy', not as a 'creed', Sharp is clearly wrong in claiming this insight for himself. For example, in Gandhi's own words, from a speech in 1942: 'Ahimsa [nonviolence] with me is a creed, the breath of my life. But it is never as a creed that I placed it before India.... I placed it before the Congress as a political method to be employed for the solution of political questions.'

Given that Sharp studied Gandhi during his early years of research into nonviolent struggle, my own inclination is to ascribe Sharp with a poor memory on this point, frightful though this may be (given that this is a perennial point of discussion in the nonviolence literature). Unfortunately, the book's authors have been deceived by Sharp's incorrect claim and they have not read widely enough to detect this falsehood.

But the failure to acknowledge earlier insights of Gandhi does not end there. In the Engler book, focusing on 'concrete, winnable goals' is described by David Moberg as an Alinsky principle and Rinku Sen, the authors say, claims that Alinsky 'established a long-standing norm' that 'Organizing should target winning immediate, concrete changes' that address the self-interest of those affected.

Now it may well be an Alinsky principle/norm. It's just that Gandhi had articulated the same principle in his 'Constructive Program' booklet published in 1941 – the demands must be concrete, easily understood, and 'within the power of the opponent to yield' – and, of course, had acted on this principle in many of his earlier campaigns. It is manifestly evident, for example, in Gandhi's list of eleven specific demands in relation to the Salt Satyagraha in 1930. Commenting on Gandhi's shrewdness in this regard, Sarvepalli Gopal noted that these demands 'were shrewdly chosen to win the sympathy of every social group in India'; moreover, they highlighted the injustice of British imperialism and constituted the substance of independence. And acknowledging Gandhi's insight, Narayan Desai noted that people are more quickly and thoroughly mobilized when the issues are immediate and concrete.

As an aside: it was the failure of the Congress of the People held in South Africa during 1955, which adopted the Freedom Charter, to clearly identify the specific and concrete demands of ordinary Africans that explains why ANC campaigns during that decade failed to mobilize the increasing level of participation necessary to achieve the desired progress in the South African freedom struggle.

Yet another example of wrong attribution is the Englers' discussion of how it 'dawned' on Sharp 'that most people held flawed conceptions about the nature of political power' regarding it as monolithic. On this point, Sharp's debt to the sixteenth century French philosopher Étienne de La Boétie is clearcut but, once again, Gandhi had made the same observation much earlier than Sharp without the benefit of being aware of La Boétie's work. As Gandhi explained it in 1941: a superficial study of history has led to the conclusion that all power percolates from parliaments to the people. The truth, he claimed, is otherwise: Power resides in the people themselves. In politics, he asserted in 1927, 'government of the people is possible only so long as they consent either consciously or unconsciously to be governed'. In fact, he argued in 1920, a government requires the cooperation of the people; if that cooperation is withdrawn, government will come to a standstill.

One of the problems with much of the literature on nonviolence is that it is written by academics who have no (or absolutely minimal) experience of nonviolent action; consequently they often fail to appreciate what matters to a nonviolent activist 'on the ground'. Having said that, there is no guarantee that the work of these nonviolence scholars is even sound in a theoretical sense. And that is a bigger problem.

Given it is one of the foundations on which the Englers' book is based therefore, it is probably useful to briefly reiterate the fundamental strategic flaws in Gene Sharp's work which were identified more than 20 years ago. In brief: it is not based on a coherent strategic theory, it makes no attempt to define the notion of will or to identify its strategic significance, it is based on the deeply flawed 'scenario approach' to strategy, it utilizes the popular misconception (promulgated by Basil Liddell Hart but also due to a misunderstanding of guerrilla theory) that the opponent has a weak point (or points) against which resources should be concentrated, it is based on Étienne de La Boétie's consent theory of power (which is grossly inadequate for liberation struggles in the imperial world that has developed since La Boétie's time), it fails to identify and explain the vital distinction between the opponent's political purpose and their strategic aims, and it utilizes the pragmatic 'win-lose' approach to nonviolent action and entails a negative conception of the opponent both of which are inconsistent with the resolution of conflict. For a full explanation of these and other shortcomings in Sharp's work, see The Strategy of Nonviolent Defense: A Gandhian Approach. http://www.sunypress.edu/p-2176-the-strategy-of-nonviolent-defe.aspx

So what of the merits of the Englers' book? The strength of this book is that the authors describe nonviolent struggles that convey a clear sense of the power of nonviolence and highlight some important lessons learned (even if they were learned anew by activists and even theorists unfamiliar with the literature on nonviolent action). This makes the book an inspiring read. The book also gives the general reader the chance to see the work of thoughtfully applied nonviolent action more clearly and to get a sense that it has theoretical underpinnings.

The weaknesses of the book are that it fails to accurately identify and then explain the actual origins of many of these theoretical underpinnings, as noted above, and second, it gives, perhaps unintentionally but most disturbingly, a rather distorted and simplistic impression of what constitutes strategy.

This is because the discussion of 'strategic nonviolent action' is reduced to just a few components of strategy, with most of the focus on the relationship between organizational structure, mass mobilizations and the creation of alternative communities and considerable focus on a few points about the way in which certain tactics are employed. These include those that involve disruption and entail sacrifice, those that pose a dilemma to authorities and the police, and those that polarize and escalate. There are also useful reiterations of why nonviolent discipline is so important, why the 'diversity of tactics' approach is misconceived and why violence and sabotage are so counterproductive.

But so many other vital components and aspects of nonviolent strategy that are far too numerous to even try summarising here are simply ignored. Even at the tactical level and despite touching on it in relation to the nonviolent blockade of the World Bank and IMF meetings in Washington DC in April 2000, the discussion includes the usual failure to clearly distinguish between the political objective and strategic goal of nonviolent actions (which is an endless source of torment for activists as their own example yet again illustrates). See 'The Political Objective and Strategic Goal of Nonviolent Actions'. https://nonviolentstrategy.wordpress.com/articles/political-objective-strategic-goal/

Most unfortunately, because, as I have noted elsewhere, nonviolence is so inherently powerful that it can sometimes succeed despite a lack of strategy or even a bad strategy, the book essentially adds to the existing substantial literature that offers poor and, too often, incorrect strategic guidance for nonviolent struggle. It certainly offers nothing to those – such as nonviolent activists in China, Palestine, Tibet, Saudi Arabia and the United States – for whom only a sophisticated nonviolent liberation strategy has any real chance of success.

And we are not going to end war, halt the climate catastrophe (both critical imperatives at this point in history) or even have people behaving as if Black Lives Matter if our strategy does not account for every factor driving these deep-seated problems.

Anyway, in essence, my suggestion is this: If you want to read an inspiring account of the power of nonviolent struggle, then this book will suit you admirably: the Englers do this really well. And if you are interested in learning how to plan and implement a nonviolent strategy for your own campaign or liberation struggle (and learning about all of the necessary components of strategy in the process) you can find out how to do so on these websites currently being created: Nonviolent Campaign Strategy https://nonviolentstrategy.wordpress.com/ and Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy. https://nonviolentliberationstrategy.wordpress.com/

If you also wish to be part of the worldwide movement to end violence in all of its forms, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of 'The People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World'. http://thepeoplesnonviolencecharter.wordpress.com

As the Englers identify in their book's subtitle, nonviolent revolt is shaping the twenty-first century. If this nonviolent revolt, in its many forms, is to have maximum impact it will require carefully designed and comprehensive nonviolent strategies that are thoughtfully implemented.

Biodata: Robert J. Burrowes has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence.He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of 'Why Violence?'http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here. http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com


Panic after Nippon hydel project pipe bursts in Darjeeling

Penstock burst at Fincheytar Lodhoma: Photo courtesy Vikram Rai
HT, 24 Aug 2016: DARJEELING: Fincheytar, a remote settlement of Darjeeling, had a narrow escape after the intake pipe of the Lodhoma Hydro Power Project of Nippon Hydel Project burst. 
Located at Bijanbari Block and situated 70km from Darjeeling, it is the first private hydro power project in Bengal. According to local residents, the intake pipe which is 4 km long and 4 ft in diameter feeds the reservoir tank supplying water from the Rittu Khola and Kalpokhari. 
“The pipe burst and water rose up to 500ft. Had the water entered the main settlement many houses would have been washed away” a local resident said. The swift flowing water damaged the road leading to Dilpa village. 
“There is no report of any loss of life or injury. There is no immediate threat. We are keeping a close watch on the situation” said district magistrate Anurag Shrivastava. 
Prakash Gurung, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) member of the Lhodama constituency, has demanded immediate intervention of the state government.
“Due to utter negligence, the accident has occurred. The pipe was leaking earlier and despite repeated complaints Nippon did not take any action. There could have been a major catastrophe. There is also leakage in the reservoir tank. The government should initiate action against the company.”

Read: PTI, Darjeeling (WB), July 20 : Three members of a family were killed at Fincheytaar in Darjeeling Hills when landslide struck their home due to persistent rains last night.
Man Kumar Limbu (25), Pengkit Limbu (23) and their 7-year-old child Anish Limbu were sleeping when boulders rolled over their hutment during heavy rains.
The hutment, falling in Lodhoma Gram Panchayat 2 on a steep hilly slope, is above Nippon Micro Hydro Project near Basbotay on the way to Mishima.
The bodies have been sent for post-mortem.

Also Read :Business Standard, November 5, 1997: The first private sector hydroelectric power project in West Bengal is slated to be commissioned by the end of 1999. The power purchase agreement for the project was signed here between the West Bengal State Electricity Board (WBSEB) and the Nippon Power Limited of the Rs 25 crore Saraogi group.
The power station is being set up on the Lodhama river which is a tributary of the Rammam river. WBSEB has already constructed a 51 mw hydroelectric power station on the Rammam river. The new site is about 5 km from the Rammam project, and, is about 70 km from Darjeeling and 150 km from Siliguri.
This will be the group's first foray into the power sector. However, it is already negotiating several other small hydroelectric power projects in Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. It is also looking at the possibilities of exploiting other small hydro projects in Bengal.
This will be a small 3 mw project costing Rs 15.5 crore. P C Saraogi of Nippon Power said that the Beijing Science & Technology Group had offered to set up this project on a turnkey basis. But, the Chinese offer at Rs 20 crore was much more expensive.
Nippon Power is yet to finalise the sourcing of the three generating units of 1 mw each. But, the supply will be totally indigenous.
The power station is expected to generate 17 million units of energy a year. The tariff has been fixed at Rs 2.25 which will increase at the rate of 4 paise a unit every year. WBSEB will buy power for the next 25 years, according to the power purchase agreement.
The project is being financed with 3:1 debt equity ratio. The loan will come from the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency at a subsidised interest rate of five per cent only. The union ministry for Non-Conventional Energy Sources will provide the subsidy.
WBSEB is negotiating with two other private promoters for a new concept in power generation and supply.
The private entrepreneurs will generate power at the Darjeeling hills and inject the energy into the Board's network. The power will be delivered at any point chosen by the entrepreneur in the plains.
This is a new concept and is known as banking of power. The power generator deposits the power with the Board and withdraws when and where power is required.
Indian Rayon is keen to set up a captive 20 mw hydel plant while the Texmaco Industries is negotiating for a small 2.4 mw hydro unit. Indian Rayon wants the power delivered at its Rishra factory while Texmaco wants the power at its Belghoria unit.
The West Bengal government has taken a policy decision to charge a wheeling charge at the rate of two per cent of the tariff for any captive power project from non-conventional sources under 3 mw.
The wheeling charge for bigger projects will depend on the actual cost of transmission since there may be some energy loss between the power input and output points and different transmission voltage at the two points.
The power station is being set up on the Lodhama river which is a tributary of the Rammam river. WBSEB has already constructed a 51 mw hydroelectric power station on the Rammam river. The new site is about 70 km from Darjeeling.

Siliguri garbage fine

TT, Siliguri, Aug. 23: The Siliguri Municipal Corporation will charge a fine from residents if they dispose garbage improperly. The decision was taken after a meeting of members mayor-in-council at the corporation yesterday.Sources in the civic body said the amount of the fine would be finalised after placing it at civic board's monthly meeting on August 31.
SMC sources said the objective of such a measure was to curb dumping of waste randomly in town by the residents. It would help conservancy workers keep the town clean and prevent the spreading of vector-borne diseases.
"Providing proper conservancy services has been a big challenge for the board since its formation last year. Things have become harder for us as there are many areas where people often dump waste on a vacant plots instead of garbage bins. Keeping this in view, we have decided that we will appeal to the residents to dispose waste in a designated place between 9am and 9.30am everyday. If anybody is found violating it, we will fine them," mayor Asok Bhattacharya said.
According to sources in the conservancy department, workers collect 3.5 tonne of waste from the 47 wards of the SMC everyday.
"We will monitor the waste disposal with help of conservancy workers and ward committee members," the mayor said.
"After the outbreak of dengue in Calcutta, some precautionary measures have been taken here. Conservancy staff and sub-assistant engineers have been instructed to visit different wards and find out if there is any under-construction building or vacant plot, where water is stagnant. Notices will be served to the land owner for necessary steps to clear the water immediately," Bhattacharya said.

Cops attacked after suicide

Image result for suicideTT, Cooch Behar, Aug. 23: Four policemen, including a sub-inspector of the Kotwali police station, were attacked and their vehicle stoned by a mob after they went to take away the body of a youth who had allegedly hanged himself.
According to police, Jumantul Hossain, 22, was found hanging from a tree 200m from his home around 6am in the Harinchaura area, which is about 5km from Cooch Behar. In his suicide note, Jumantul named a woman leading a self-help group and said she had "implicated me in a false case".
The Telegraph could not contact the woman for a reaction. She has fled the area.
Police sources said the youth had been implicated in a rape case by the woman who leads the 17-member self-help group. Jumantul's mother was a member of the same group and had allegedly spoken out against the group leader alleging that she had misused funds of the group.
This morning, after the news of the alleged suicide spread, policemen came to retrieve the body of Jumantul, who is a graduate from ABN Seal College.
Police sources said the policemen were attacked by villagers who alleged that the youth had been harassed by the police. The police have denied harassing the youth.
"About one-and-a-half months ago, there was a dispute among the members of the group over finances. Both sides filed complaints against each other with the Kotwali police station. We have come to know that the two groups had even come to blows," a source said.
The police sources said after they were attacked, reinforcements were sent by the Kotwali police. The body was taken away for post-mortem.
Cooch Behar police superintendent Sunil Yadav said seven persons had been arrested. "The police are patrolling the area. There are cases and counter-cases against group members and the matter is being heard in high court."

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