Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ghising to quit DGHC Chairman GJMM to suspend indefinite bandh for 10 days

Staff Reporter
GANGTOK, February 29: The West Bengal government has given ten days time to the caretaker administrator of the Darjeeling Hill Council, Subhash Ghising to step down from his post, which he has been holding for the last 20 years.
This was notified after the second sitting between Chief Minister of West Bengal Buddhadev Bhattacharya and chief of agitating Gokha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM), Bimal Gurung today.
According to the GJMM chief, “the Chief Minister told him that Ghising would be made to step down in case he did not resign from the post after ten days.”
“Ghising has sought ten days to remove his personal belongings from Lal Khoti, his official residence,” Mr Gurung added.
Speaking about the bill on the Sixth Schedule to give certain special powers to the Council, Mr Gurung said that the Parliamentary Standing Committee had referred it back to the Union Home ministry. “It has been thrown into the dustbin. It is not in the favour of the people of Darjeeling. It will not be passed without our approval,” Mr Gurung said.
Mr Gurung, who fell out with Ghising and floated the rival GJMM in November last year, maintained that the bill on the Sixth Schedule will not be passed without the consent of the Morcha.
Reports coming in inform that Mr Ghising has reached Delhi Thursday.
The central committee member of GJMM, Dr. Harka Bahadhur said that the Chief Minister has assured not to implement the bill of Sixth Schedule without knowing the ground reality of Darjeeling. The Chief Minister, he said, had also informed to scrap the Sixth Schedule as well as not to initiate any activities, which are against the people of Darjeeling.
Moreover, with the news of the DGHC Chairman quitting from his post, supporters of GJMM took out a ‘victory rally’ at Rangpo, West Bengal side. The rally was bigger in Darjeeling hills, it is learnt.
The GJMM spokesperson, Lokesh Chettri, in the meantime has expressed gratitude to the Central Government for stopping the Sixth Schedule. He further said, GJMM is following Gandhigiri policy to make the mission effective. Mr Chettri also expressed gratitude to GJMM chief for the fight for the separate state Gorkhaland.
Yesterday, a Parliamentary panel put brakes on the bills seeking to accord special status to Darjeeling Hill areas and asked the government to take a re-look before proceeding further.
After examining the bills, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Home Affairs advised the Home Ministry to have a fresh look at the move.
“The committee would like to caution and advise the Ministry of Home Affairs to make a fresh assessment of the ground realities all over again before proceeding with the bills in the two Houses of Parliament," the committee, headed by BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, said in its report presented to Rajya Sabha.
The bills, Sixth Schedule to the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2007 and the Constitution (107th Amendment) Bill 2007 introduced towards the fag end of the Winter Session -- seek to provide sixth schedule status for the Darjeeling Hill areas.
The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution provides special status to certain areas in the north-eastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura in terms of administrative and functional autonomy.
The committee observed that if the bills had been passed immediately after signing the Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) in December 2005, the situation would have been different because Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) leader Subhas Ghisingh was “the undisputed leader at that time”.
But in a clear reference to the current political situation in which Ghising appears to have lost ground, the committee said: “During the last two years, much water has flown down and non-holding of election has added fuel to the fire.”
This indicated the erosion of Ghising’s support base in favour of his detractor Bimal Gurung. The panel noted that “diametrically opposite” views had emerged on the Bills.