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9 May 2018

MP seeks ST Gorkha tag

Vivek Chhetri, TT, May 09, 2018, Darjeeling: BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia has written to the Union tribal ministry pressing for inclusion of 11 Gorkha communities in the Schedule Tribal list, the move coinciding with the rural polls in the Bengal.

The letter written by Ahluwalia is dated April 25, 2018, but it was posted by Gorkha leader Roshan Giri on social media on Tuesday. The BJP had used the tribal card effectively in earlier elections.

The Darjeeling MP has justified his decision to write the letter now saying the term of the committee constituted by the Union tribal ministry to look into the demand ends in May this year.

"I request you to use your influence to take a decision on the 11 communities and direct constitutional amendment to include these communities in the ST list," Ahluwalia's letter to Jual Oram in Hindi reads.

The 11 communities demanding tribal status are Bhujel, Gurung, Mangar, Newar, Jogi, Khas, Rai, Sunuwar, Thami, Yakka (Dewan) and Dhimal.

The demand has popular support among members of the 11 communities who constitutes nearly 50 percent of the Gorkha population.

Although the BJP has been dangling the tribal card before the Gorkhas, actual progress has been slow.

Even though Ahluwalia's letter states that the committee's tenure will end in May this year, observers are sceptical given past records. "The letter has surfaced in public domain when Bengal is going for rural polls. Gorkhas constitute a sizeable population in the Dooars. The timing raises eyebrows," said an observer.

Bengal, Sikkim and Himalachal Pradesh had already recommended the inclusion of the 11 Gorkha communities in the ST list.

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