Mahendra P Lama, the pro vice-chancellor of Indira Gandhi National Open University, handed in his resignation and floated the Darjeeling-Dooars United Development Foundation (DDUDF).
The outfit, which was floated in Darjeeling will work towards the formation of a separate state comprising Darjeeling district and Dooars region.
Addressing media persons in Darjeeling town, Lama said, “This is an initiative by members of civil society, and social, political and professional formations in Darjeeling district and Dooars. The main objective of the foundation will be to initiate and strengthen the process of founding and developing an apex and all inclusive organisation that would advocate, move, argue, engage and achieve the historically raised and protractedly delayed separate state.”
The foundation will work towards securing complete self-governance for the people of Darjeeling district and Dooars in the form of a separate state within the constitutional framework of the country.
According to Lama, the separate state will be inclusive in nature and will address the needs of all the different communities living in this region.
“Usually a political party is floated and then a think tank is constituted. This time we have reversed the process. We already have a think tank that will chalk out our future course of action. At present the foundation is apolitical in nature,” said Lama.
The DDUDF will stress on the criticality of the identity issue of Indian Gorkhas at the apex decision-making bodies of the Union and state government and will work towards a permanent solution to the identity issue.
The foundation will ensure that the people of Darjeeling district and the Dooars are represented in policy-making bodies including the state Assembly, Parliament and other regional and national institutions.
“Representation of the people is important so that they can influence and contribute to political and other decision-making processes. The foundation will nominate and fund candidates for Assembly, parliamentary and other elections,” said Lama.
Incidentally, Lama has already announced his candidature for the next parliamentary elections as an independent candidate from Darjeeling. Lama, who has been constantly advocating strongly against the politics of bandhs, hopes to restore the status of the region as an education hub.
The foundation plans to encourage and bring recognised national and global institutions to provide quality education and training services and in order to undertake and participate in various development projects in the Darjeeling district and Dooars.
DDUDF will be working on all fronts for the socio-economic development of this region.
“We will strive to make this region an education hub, a recognised health resort, an unparalleled eco-tourism destination and a vital junction of border trade and for the reopening of traditional Jelep la trade route between Kalimpong/Darjeeling and Tibet Autonomous Region of China,” said Lama.