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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

GJM tries to arrive at a consensus in Hills

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Darjeeling, August 29, 2013
First Published: 11:40 IST(29/8/2013) | Last Updated: 11:45 IST(29/8/2013)

Playing safe, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha(GJM) chief Bimal Gurung tried to seek a written consensus on various political programmes including the ongoing indefinite closure of the Hills and for future political programmes.

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The final decision on these issues (including the fate of the bandh) will be made public on August 30 after a meeting with the Gorkha Joint Action Committee (GJAC, a pro Gorkhaland conglomeration of whichGJMisaconstituentparty).

The meeting took place at Malidhura, around 6 km from Darjeeling town.

Attended by 147 persons representing the GJM central committee, frontal organisation sand the Gork haland study forum,the meetinginlength discussed in detail the present political scenario and the ongoing bandh.

Addressing media persons after the meeting, GJM spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chettri said, “All 147 persons handed in their written views on four important issues including the fate of the ongoing indefinite bandh in educational institutions and government offices; the state government’s attitude towards the agitation and the rampant arrests; and future plans and programmes includingchangesinprogrammes if required.”

The written answers will be carefully scrutinised and debated upon. “Thereby we will draw up a consensus programme which we will discuss in the GJAC meeting slatedforAugust30.Afterthreadbare discussion in the GJAC the future agitation programmes will be discussed,” said Chettri.

Political observers said that if Morcha goes by Wednesday’s written consensus then there is very little chance of the bandh being withdrawn. As it was not a secret ballot, most would not dare pitch against the bandh from the fear of being labeled anti-Gorkhaland.

Questioned on the brewing discontentamongotherconstituents of the GJAC over the indefinite bandh call, Chettri said, “Officially the GJAC has not given any statement against the bandh.”

Interestingly the month-long bandh has failed to evoke the desired effect with the central government still remaining indifferent to the ongoing political crisis that has engulfed the Hills.Continued bandh would hardly create any pressure on the Centre, feel political observers.

The Centre having adopted a waitand-watchstancewoulddefinitely tread carefully on the Gorkhaland issue with chief minister Mamata Banerjee having already written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh requesting the Centre not to interfere in the matters of the Darjeeling Hills.

With 2014 Parliamentary elections round the corner even the UPA government would think twice before antagonising Banerjee and the Trinamool, feel observers.

However, most anticipate that educational institutes could be let off the hook after August 31. Along with the one-month spate of bandhs (with only a few days of recess in between) in the Hills since July 29, the Hill schools and colleges have also closed down. TheGJMhasinsteadhandedover the Gorkhaland agitation baton to school students within the age bracket of 12 to 18 since Augsut 27. The daily students rallies and public meetings will continue till August 31.

Meanwhile, Chettri reiterated the GJM’s demand to the government for the release of more than 800 arrested GJMsupporters including 10 Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) members, to enable the GJM to take part in the GTA Sabha meeting slated for September 4 to elect a new GTA chief.

“If the government fails to release all our 800-plus arrested supporters then we too will not take part in the meet,” said Chettri. Facilitating the release of 800-plus GJM supporters and leaders in such a short time span being a remote possibility, speculations are rife that the GJM will not take part in the GTA Sabha meet, which could then result in the government nominating a chief citing the current abnormal situation as the reason.

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