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5 Jul 2017

Gurung fires Sixth Schedule salvo - Shun special tag plea: Morcha Our Bureau

Morcha supporters demonstrate in front of Darjeeling Sadar police station on Tuesday for Gorkhaland.
 Picture by Passang Yolmo
TT, Calcutta, July 4: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president today said the Bengal government was cooking a “Sixth Schedule khichdi” to create disunity in the hills and asked other political parties not to deviate from the one-point agenda of Gorkhaland.
Bimal Gurung did not name any political party, but early today, Morcha leaders had asked the GNLF to state clearly by July 6 that it no longer wanted special status for the hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.  
The GNLF had been demanding the Sixth Schedule status for the hills. After the current statehood movement began in the hills, the party said it was setting aside the Sixth Schedule demand and would concentrate on the statehood struggle.
At a press conference in Patlebas, Darjeeling, Gurung said: “I am hearing that a Sixth Schedule khichdi is being cooked by the Bengal government to bring about disunity. I have also heard that there are talks going on (with other hill parties) regarding granting of tribal status (to 11 hill communities). I will not take the name of any party but all hill organisations should focus on the one-point-agenda of Gorkhaland.”
The GNLF, founded by the late Subash Ghisingh, was the original proponent of the Gorkhaland demand. In 2005, he entered into an agreement with the central and state government to bring the hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Ghisingh’s argument then was that Gorkhaland was not immediately possible and the alternative choice would be the Sixth Schedule status, under which both executive and legislative powers would be available.  
Earlier today, Binita Roka, the spokesperson for the Morcha, had said the GNLF should pass a resolution stating its withdrawal from the Sixth Schedule demand. “We heeded the GNLF’s demand that the Morcha pull out of the GTA. So, the GNLF should now pass a resolution, stating clearly it is withdrawing itself from the demand before the all-party meeting on July 6,” said Roka.
The GNLF iterated that it had already dumped the Sixth Schedule demand.
“Morcha spokesperson should not make reckless statements. We are not concerned about the Sixth Schedule status anymore. If they want us, we will burn the copies of the agreement, which was never honoured by the governments. We will immediately do so,” said Neeraj Zimba, the spokesman for the GNLF.
He added that the GNLF  would not allow any other political party to settle for anything less than the statehood.
Political observers said though it was too early to comment on the future of the all-party initiative to spearhead the current Gorkhaland movement, given the present sentiments in the hills, Gurung’s remark had the potential to drive a wedge between the Morcha and the GNLF.
However, Gurung today said the Gorkhaland Movement Co-ordination Committee formed by all hill parties was taking forward the statehood demand. “But no party should seek the Sixth Schedule status. The only agenda must be Gorkhaland,” he added.
The Morcha chief said he was getting calls from the Centre to sit for a dialogue on “issues” related to the hills. “Only yesterday, I received a message from the Centre for a dialogue on issues related to the hills. I have made it very clear that we will only speak on Gorkhaland,” said Gurung.
The Morcha chief said his party was “not in favour of withdrawing the strike as of now”.
“This agitation is not for food, but it is for our identity. We are not in favour of withdrawing the strike as of now. In the days to come, we might even go for the shutdown of various projects, like hydel ones, in the hills,” said Gurung.
He demanded President’s rule in Bengal, saying law and order was in a shambles in the state.

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