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4 May 2018

Morcha 'peace' advice to GNLF

Suraj Sharma ( right), the spokesperson for the Morcha, speaks at a news conference in Darjeeling on Wednesday
Vivek Chhetri, TT, May 03, 2018 Darjeeling: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha on Wednesday launched a vitriolic attack on the Gorkha National Liberation Front in an indication that battle lines were being drawn by the two biggest political forces in the hills.

Suraj Sharma, the spokesman for the Morcha, on Wednesday asked the GNLF leaders to "read their own history" and requested the GNLF not to try and disrupt peace and normalcy in the hills at a time when tourism is picking up.

The GNLF had on Sunday while announcing their decision to hit the streets seeking for scrapping of GTA and revival of DGHC, had termed GTA as an unconstitutional body, questioned Morcha's mandate and demanded appointment of an apolitical at the helm of GTA accusing Binay Tamang of nepotism.

Sharma, said: "Our mandate is proved by the fact we have three hill MLAs, elected representatives of three hill municipalities are with us while GNLF does not even have a single elected municipality councillors. It is the state government which decides when to conduct elections for which we are ready."

The GNLF had demanded that Sixth Schedule status be revived. Sharma, today said: "The GNLF should read its own history. In 1986, Subash Ghisingh had said that Sixth Schedule was for meant for half-naked people and that he wore a three piece suit and shoes. After nearly 20 years, Ghisingh again signed an agreement for Sixth Schedule."

Highlighting the confusion among GNLF over the Sixth Schedule status, Sharma said: "After signing the agreement, Subash Ghisingh had addressed a public meeting where he had announced that he does not understand this provision and issued a veiled threat to the media not to try and understand the provision too much."

Accusing GNLF of trying to misinform the hill people, Sharma said: "The GNLF says that DGHC has constitutional provision. Was the DGHC bill passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha? The mention of DGHC in the constitution was only to form Siliguri Mahukama Parishad."

Both the DGHC and GTA has been formed by a state act passed in the Bengal assembly with the President of India giving his assent.

"The GNLF is only trying to misinform people," said Keshav Raj Pokhrel, central committee leader of the Morcha. "They say that Binay Tamang is involved in nepotism. Is constructing schools, getting state universities for the hills nepotism?" questioned Pokhrel.

Making light of GNLF's 21 years of rule, Sharma said: "Their leader (Ghisingh) used to talk about how hindu gods were staying in New Jersey,US, how two planets had disappeared, how earthquakes would bypass Lal Khoti (DGHC headquarters) and so on..Such was the politics of their time. The hill people have endured their whishy- washy politics."

The Morcha requested the GNLF not to disrupt peace during the tourism period by calling an agitation. "We request them to run the Hill Area Development Committee (which is being headed by GNLF leaders) -- a sum of Rs 10 crore for HADC is lying with the GTA and they have to submit the utilization certificate to GTA, instead of talking of an agitation during the tourism season," said Sharma.

Observers believe that with both parties trying to drawn their battelines, the game of one-up-manship has started in the hills.

"Gauging by the mood from both sides it is clear that both are trying to usurp the political space in the hills, which could turn out nasty" said an observer.

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