The Government of West Bengal has managed to pacify the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) assuring that official amendments would be tabled along with the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Bill 2011 in the West Bengal Assembly on Friday.
A GJM team consisting of the general secretary Roshan Giri, Study Forum member LB Pariyar and the four GJM MLAs among others, after careful scrutiny of the draft copy of the Bill had declared that the spirit of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is missing in the Bill and that at least 24 rectifications are required to put things back on track.
The GJM had even put a request that the Bill be deferred. However a meeting between the chief minister Mamata Banerjee; parliamentary affairs minister Partha Chatterjee and West Bengal chief secretary Samar Ghosh and the GJM team on Thursday managed to break the ice.
“The Government of West Bengal assured us that they will be tabling official amendments along with the Bill in Assembly on Friday” stated Giri.
“They will include all points that have been omitted in the Bill. They have assured us that whatever has been agreed upon in the MOA will definitely be reflected in the Bill” added Harka Bahadur Chettri, GJM Spokesperson who is also the MLA from Kalimpong.
Since October 2007, the Darjeeling Hills have been a witness to a separate state agitation led by the GJM. Several rounds of tripartite talks between the Centre, State and the GJM and also Mamata Banerjee coming to power finally paved way for the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOA) between the Centre, State and the GJM for the formation of an autonomous body named the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) on July 18, 2011.
The GJM handed over a list of 24 amendments that the party feels should be incorporated in the Bill, to the chief secretary on Thursday. Pointing out some of the grey areas to HT, Chettri stated that regarding composition the MOA had stated that the Chief Executive would nominate 14 members whereas the Bills states that 12 members would be nominated by the chief executive and 2 by the governor.
“Usually a quorum of a house is reached by one-third members. Usually it would require 17 members to reach a quorum of the 50 member GTA Sabha, whereas the Bill talks of 26 members to reach a quorum. In the case of the 15 member Executive Body the usual number should be 5, whereas the Bill talks of 9 to reach the quorum” stated Chettri.
Regarding the transferred subjects to the GTA the MOA has clearly talked of financial, administrative and executive powers whereas the Bill talks of only executive powers.
The MOA had stated that the GTA would have the power to create posts and also appoint whereas the Bill talks of only appointment and no creation of posts.
“The preamble of the MOA had stated that the GTA would be formed for the overall socio-economic development, cultural development and for establishing the identity of the Gorkhas whereas the Bill has omitted the identity part.” claimed Chettri.
A one and a half hour slot has been allotted for the tabling, discussion and passing of the Bill in Assembly on Friday. With the Trinamool-Congress alliance enjoying sound majority, the Bill is expected to sail through with ease feel political observers. “The recommended amendments will give the true autonomous character to the GTA” stated Giri.