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30 May 2017

Old faces helm new civic boards in hills

Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, May 29: The Trinamul Congress and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha appear to have stressed on experience while appointing the chairmen and vice-chairmen to three municipalities in the hills.
Both the Morcha and Trinamul have appointed leaders who have held the posts earlier, even if it was on behalf of other parties.
In the Mirik municipality, Trinamul appointed as chairman L.B. Rai, who had helmed the civic body not once but thrice.
He was the GNLF chairman of Mirik municipality for three terms from 1996. Rai was also a Morcha councillor at Mirik from 2011 to 2016.
M.K. Zimba, who was named the vice-chairman, had held the same post in the previous Morcha-controlled board. He and Rai had switched over from the Morcha to Trinamul a month before the civic elections.
The Morcha announced Krishna Limbu as the chairman of the Kurseong municipality. Limbu had been the Morcha civic chief in 2008, too. Brigen Gurung, a former bank employee and a new entrant into politics, was made the new vice-chairman of Kurseong municipality.
In Darjeeling, Morcha leader D.K. Pradhan took oath as the municipal chairman. He was a two-time civic chief from 1994 to 2002, when the municipality was ruled by the GNLF. Pradhan was also the GNLF legislator of Darjeeling in 2001. The name of the new Darjeeling vice-chairman is yet to be announced.
The chairman and vice-chairman of Kalimpong municipality are slated to take oath tomorrow. The Morcha has proposed the names of Suva Pradhan and Sonam Tsewang Bhutia (Yakha) as the chairman and the vice-chairman, respectively. They haven't held the posts before.
Four of Trinamul's councillors - one from Darjeeling and three from Kurseong - did not take oath today. They had gone to Mirik to attend the inauguration of the party's board.
In Darjeeling, Neelam Yolmo of the Morcha representing ward 13 couldn't take oath as he was ill. The Morcha's three councillors in Mirik were, however, sworn in today.
Asked about his switch from the Morcha a month before the elections, Mirik civic chief Rai said: "The only reason I joined Trinamul was to strengthen Mamata Banerjee's promise to look into the demand of granting land rights to the residents of Mirik municipality. This is the only reason."
Sources said many in Trinamul believed that the party could win Mirik solely because of Mamata's decision to start a survey on land rights. Residents of seven wards, out of nine, do not have any land documents as the land is leased to Thurbo tea garden.
Rai conceded he could work better as he belonged to a party in power. "Earlier, there were problems, but I am confident that I will be able to perform much better this time."

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