Gorkhaland crisis: Benoy Tamang toes Mamata Banerjee’s line as GTA chief; Bimal Gurung hits back
With Benoy Tamang taking forward the Bengal government’s agenda, differences between the administration and Gorkhaland agitators got wider on Monday.kolkata Updated: Sep 25, 2017 21:38 IST
Shortly after taking charge of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) as nominee of chief minister Mamata Banerjee, expelled Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leader Benoy Tamang on Monday widened the fissures between the state and parties demanding Gorkhaland.
Toeing Banerjee’s line, Tamang, the new chairman of the board of administrators, said he would make the semi-autonomous body “corruption-free.” Banerjee had earlier repeatedly alleged that ever since it came into existence in 2012, the GTA became a centre of corruption. She ordered a special audit that triggered a fresh movement for statehood in June.
GJM president Bimal Gurung, who headed the GTA and is now in hiding, reacted sharply. “The Gorkhas will not forgive Tamang for working against their interest and aspiration,” Gurung told HT over phone from an undisclosed location.
“I will wait till September 27 for the Centre to take some positive step. If that does not happen we will sit and decide our next course of action,” he said.
Gurung warned that the next movement to take forward the demand for a separate state for the Gorkhas may turn violent. “The state government and the Centre have underestimated us till now. They should not continue to do so,” said the GJM chief. The indefinite bandh called by GJM and other parties entered its 103rd day on Monday.
After taking charge of his new office on Monday, Tamang said the board of administrators would focus on “zero corruption and work culture.” Health, drinking water, education, tourism and repair and maintenance of roads would be its priority,” he added.
Three months ago, all hill parties including GJM rejected the GTA before its tenure came to an end. Interestingly, it was Tamang who set copies of the GTA agreement on fire on June 26 and GJM members elected to the body resigned.
On September 20, the Bengal chief minister announced the formation of a nine-member board of administrators for the GTA with Tamang as its chairman. Most of the hill parties have so far rejected this arrangement, claiming that it will only invite trouble and lead to serious law and order crisis in the Darjeeling hills.