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Ghisingh returns to a rousing reception

india Updated: Apr 10, 2011 14:01 IST
Amitava Banerjee
Amitava Banerjee
Hindustan Times
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Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) chief Subash Ghisingh on Saturday, addressed his supporters at Mirik, thereby announcing his much-awaited comeback to Hill politics from the very place where he had floated the outfit back in April, 1980. The event marked the end of a six-year hiatus.

Releasing the party’s election manifesto, Ghisingh said he had written to UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, seeking her intervention in the passage of the Bill pending in Parliament for the new Gorkha Hill Council to be accorded the Sixth Schedule status under the Constitution. “I have written that I am not a political beggar. The Centre and state, agreeing to the Sixth Schedule status for the council, had signed the memorandum of settlement (MoS). Now, it would not be fair to back out,” said Ghisingh.

The GNLF president pulled up the Centre, stating that it had been misleading the likes of Bimal Gurung by promising meaningless things such as the interim setup. “The Centre delayed the Sixth Schedule Bill on purpose even after signing the MOS. This is not a good practice,” said Ghisingh.

Ghisingh, however, said the state has played its part by passing a resolution in the assembly regarding the Sixth Schedule status to be accorded to the New Gorkha Hill Council. “Bengal should be happy. I am not asking for a separate state, hence there is no question of Banga-Bhanga. Now, they should ensure that the Sixth Schedule is passed,” said the GNLF chief.

Ghisingh said Gorkhaland is not a practical proposition. “Gorkhaland was a Brahmashtra (ultimate weapon) I had used in 1986 to protect the 1 crore Gorkhas of the country. Following our relentless pressure, the Gorkhas of the country were accorded Indian citizenship, thereby obliterating the tag of foreigners (from Nepal). Before the GNLF agitation, the Gorkhas were labelled foreigners and were driven out of the Northeast. In the bargain, we also managed to secure the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council,” said the veteran Gorkha leader.

Ghisingh said that even with limited powers under the DGHC, he had tried his best to bring in development across the Hills and recruit ad hoc workers.

Without naming Bimal Gurung or the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), Ghisingh said, “Who has given you the right to mess up the Hills? In the name of Gorkhaland, why are you taking people for a ride?”

However, he sought to reassure his men and people at large that normality would return soon. “Do not worry. I am back,” said Ghisingh amid loud cheers from thousands who had gathered to hear their leader speak.

The Gorkha leader said there was no need to send representatives to the assembly since the new Gorkha Hill Council would provide for separate legislative powers. “With the coming of the new Gorkha Hill Council under the Sixth Schedule, we would have our legislative powers,” said Ghisingh.

Seeking to solicit support for GNLF’s poll nominees in Kalimpong, Kurseong and Darjeeling, Ghisingh said, “If you love the Hills, vote for the GNLF. If you want to save the Hills, vote for GNLF. April 18 would be the real test for you,” said Ghisingh to his followers.

Thousands of GNLF supporters gathered in Mirik, 52 km from Darjeeling, to hear Ghisingh. He had last addressed the people on January 10, 2005, in Darjeeling town.