On December 6, 2005, a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed between the Centre, State and GNLF President Subash Ghising to accord a 6th Schedule status to the Darjeeling Hills. However with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) being floated by dissident GNLF leader Bimal Gurung in October 2007 riding piggyback on the Gorkhaland demand finally led to the ouster of Ghising, the GNLF and the 6th Schedule demand from the Hills.
A fresh Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed between the State, Centre and the GJM on July 18, 2011, for the formation of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA,) an autonomous administrative body to replace the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. This MOA paved way for the passing of a GTA Bill by the West Bengal Assembly. The Bill is at present under inter-ministerial consultation. Following a green signal from the ministries, the Bill will require an assent from the President of India. A GNLF source stated that Ghising has decided to knock on the doors of the apex court, questioning as to why the Government has failed to honour its own MOU to grant a 6th Schedule status to the Darjeeling Hills.
“Subash Ghising has been meeting Supreme Court lawyers to seek legal opinion on this matter. Whatever be the outcome the GNLF party has decided to seek legal recourse” stated the source. Meanwhile a jittery GJM has threatened to resurrect the separate state demand if the Government fails to form the GTA within March 27, 2012. GJM President Bimal Gurung has made an announcement to this effect at Jamuney near Darjeeling on Tuesday evening. After his ouster from the Hills in 2008, Ghising had returned back to Darjeeling from his political exile in Jalpaiguri on April 8, 2011. The GNLF in an attempt to regroup had even fielded candidates in the three hill constituencies in the last Assembly elections. However after being routed in all the three seats (Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong) Ghising had made a silent retreat to Jalpaiguri on May 16, 2011.
Ghising is planning to come out of the political hibernation to make yet another public appearance in Mirik under the Kurseong sub division of the Darjeeling district. Aimed at sensitizing the public on the benefits of the 6th Schedule, the party has planned a similar meetings across the Hills. “We will hold public meetings all over the Hills starting with Mirik in February. President, Subash Ghisingh, will soon announce the dates for the meetings. He will also be present in the meetings.” stated Arjun Rai, the convener of the GNLF’s Mirik area. The GNLF have already initiated ground work, specially in the Mirik area. Rai had recently held meetings with GNLF village chiefs of the Mirik area.