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17 Jun 2017

Nabanna calls board heads

Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Kalimpong, June 16: The chief of some of the development boards for different hill communities today left for Calcutta to attend a meeting to be held by Mamata Banerjee tomorrow, fuelling speculation that they were called to stymie the unrest. 
Mamata has formed 15 development boards for communities in the hills. It couldn't be immediately confirmed if the chairmen of all 15 boards had been called to attend the meeting. 
"In all likelihood, the chief minister might discuss development-related matters with the board heads. There is a possibility that she might allot additional funds to the boards to counter the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha's movement," said an official at Nabanna. 
So far, each board has received at least Rs 5 crore from the state government.
Morcha chief Bimal Gurung has appealed to the heads of the boards to step down in support of the party's agitation.
"If the boards, which cover different communities in the hills, are with the chief minister, it would be easy for the government to alienate the Morcha from a large section of the population," an official said.
According to sources, the Nabanna meeting was planned in a hurry and the board chairmen were informed this morning.
The chairman of a board who was on his way to Calcutta said he had received a call from the backward classes welfare department to attend a meeting.
"I am on my way to Calcutta now. Beyond that, I know nothing," he said, and hung up.
Political observers also said the hush-hush manner in which the meeting was convened suggested that the government wanted to make use of the board heads to tackle the unrest.
"The state is clearly rattled by the ongoing agitation and it will use all means to scuttle it. But barring the Lepcha board, all others seem to have little influence on the vast majority of their respective communities. This is borne out partly from the results of the recent civic polls where the Trinamul Congress could win only 11 of the total 84 seats in four hill municipalities," said an observer.
An executive member of a board said: "We are Gorkhas first and then whichever ethic group we belong to. If tomorrow, there is genuine agitation for Gorkhaland, we will all be together."

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