Rajeev Ravidas and Vivek Chhetri, TT, March 6. Mamata Banerjee's twin goals of winning in the hills and weakening the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha seem to be wavering with her closest ally in the region, Harka Bahadur Chhetri, slamming the Trinamul Congress and a ruling party leader criticising the manner in which development boards were functioning.
Chhetri, who had formed the Jana Andolan party and contested from Kalimpong in the last Assembly polls with Trinamul's support, for the first time launched an attack on the ruling party today.
Addressing a press conference in Kalimpong, Chhetri said: "I want to tell the people, if you want a clean society, if you want to leave behind a good place for the future generation, you have no other alternative (to the JAP). Even if you want a separate state, on one side, you have Trinamul that has a clearly stated position of not conceding a separate state, and on the other, there is the Morcha, for which the separate state is only a slogan to be used to seek votes."
He also accused the chief minister of taking the sole credit for creating Kalimpong district to stymie the growth of the JAP.
"For her (Mamata) to claim today that she on her own created the district is a political talk because if she were to credit elsewhere (read Chhetri), it would mean the JAP would grow, and her party would not be benefited," said the former Kalimpong MLA.
A few days after leaving the Morcha on September 18, 2015, Chhetri had fronted the Kalimpong District Demand Committee. On December 18 of the same year, when the chief minister announced her government's decision to create Kalimpong district, she attributed it to Chhteri's demand.
However, when the district came into being, Mamata said no individual could take credit for it. Asked about Chhetri's remarks, Binny Sharma, the spokesman for Trinamul (hills), said: "I wouldn't like to comment immediately."
In Darjeeling, J.B. Tamang, the president of the Trinamul-affiliated Darjeeling Zilla Tea Workers' and Employees' Union, today alleged that development boards were not implementing housing schemes properly.
"The chairman and vice-chairman of many development boards have a fixed quota for the allotment of housing schemes. Instead of the quota, the board should go to tea gardens and figure out the needy and build houses for them," he said.
Tamang said many boards were supplying construction materials to the beneficiaries and providing a meagre amount in cash for construction expenses.
"Like other government housing schemes, the entire amount should be given to the beneficiaries," he said.
"We have already taken up the matter with senior Trinamul leaders and asked them to ensure that the full fund is transferred directly to the beneficiaries. We will also be meeting the chief minister on the matter," said Tamang.
The Trinamul leader also alleged that toilets that were being constructed by an NGO which had a Morcha leader as a member was short-changing the beneficiaries.
"A toilet is to be constructed for approximately Rs 11,400. But an NGO in which a trade union leader of the Morcha is involved is short-changing the beneficiaries. Materials as prescribed by the government are not being supplied. Instead of giving 121 bricks, they are only providing 70 bricks. The number of tin roofs are also less and only Morcha supporters are benefiting," said Tamang.
Suraj Subba, the general secretary of the Morcha's trade union for tea garden workers and a member of Singalila Social Welfare Society, said: "The allegations are baseless and our NGO is working as per the direction of the government. He (Tamang) is pointing finger at our society as I am its member. But actually, there are 32 NGOs working in the area."Tamang hadn't named Subba's NGO, but if was clear whom he was referring to.