The high-powered committee on GTA territory emerged as a perfect instrument to diffuse on the ongoing impasse between the State Government and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM). However the CPIM has labelled this high-powered committee as "a mere eyewash."
With the GJM writing off elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA- an autonomous administrative setup) prior to the finalization of the territory to come under the GTA and the State pressing for early elections, had resulted in an impasse. Banerjee in a bid to resolve the stalemate had invited the GJM for talks in Kolkata on Saturday.
Territory remains a contiguous issue with the GJM pressing for the incorporation of 199 Gorkha dominated mouzas of Terai and 199 mouzas of Dooars in the GTA. The Government had insisted on the present Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council area (Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong sub divisions.)
Finally a joint committee was constituted comprising of representatives from all the three sides. The committee headed by former Justice Shyamal Sen is at present conducting field visits and survey. The committee will be meeting in Kolkata on March 27.
In Saturday’s meeting the high-powered committee emerged as the focal point of the resolution of the impasse. The resolution of Saturday’s meeting mentioned that the Government would request the high-powered committee to hand in recommendations by early June 2012 (it would be a request and not mandatory.)
With no stipulated time frame for this high-powered committee to hand over recommendation, the recommendations could well emerge post GTA elections slated for end June or early July 2012. However this time Gurung would not be in a position to brush off elections as he has already agreed to this (as per the resolution adopted in Saturday’s meeting.)
As per Saturday's resolution, it is binding for both the parties to abide by the recommendations of the high-powered committee. There would be very less that the GJM can do if the committee does not recommend inclusion of the 398 mouzas of Terai and Dooars as demanded by the GJM.
When asked by the media, what would steps the GJM would adopt should the committee recommendation was adverse (to their demand,) GJM Supremo Gurung’s sketchy remark was “We have 4 representatives in the committee and they are not sitting there with their hands tied.” There were clear indications that the GJM would have very less to do if the recommendations were not in their favour.
Gurung’s hand picked delegation to attend Saturday’s meeting with the Chief Minister included Madhusudhan Thapa- GJM leader from Terai and Ganesh Allay- GJM General Secretary of Dooars region. Political observers feel that Thapa and Allay were deliberately taken along so that they would become a party of the decisions and resolution adopted at the meeting. Owing to this GJM supporters of Terai and Dooars would not have much scope to point fingers at Gurung and the GJM Central leadership in future (in case of the 398 mouzas failing to make it to the GTA.)
The CPIM in a party meeting in Darjeeling on Saturday alleged that the high-powered committee is “nothing but eyewash.”
“The very legal language of the GTA Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is a pointer to this” alleged CPIM leader Asok Bhattacharjee.
Regarding territory the MOA states “The area of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration shall comprise the areas of the entire sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong with extended areas of Kurseong. In regard to transfer of additional areas of Siliguri Terai and Dooars to the new Body, a high-powered Committee will be formed. “
“First they use the word “Shall” which makes the GTA area binding to entire sub divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong and extended areas of Kurseong. After that they talk of the high-powered committee. The word “Shall” makes the committee redundant” alleged Bhattacharjee.
Adding to this CPIM Rajya Sabha MP Saman Pathak stated that answering to his query on the geographical limit of the GTA; Jitendra Singh, minister of state, home affairs on March 21 in the Rajya Sabha had stated, “The geographic limit of the GTA comprising the three hill sub divisions of the district of Darjeeling namely, Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong , and includes the following mouzas in the sub-division of Siliguri of that district.”
The minister then went on to name 18 mouzas including Lohagarh tea Garden, Lohagarh Forest, Panighatta, Sukna Part 1, Sukna Forest, Mahananda Forest, Champasari Forest, Sivoke Forest and Nipania.