Sunday, March 02, 2008

Ghisingh block stays

March 1: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung today said his party would not allow Subash Ghisingh to enter Darjeeling till he stepped down as the hill council’s caretaker chairman even as Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee saw an end to the ongoing row.

“We are not ready to pay any importance to Ghisingh’s proclamation that he will take up the issue of Gorkhaland again as he lacks the minimum support base in the hills. We are not ready to allow him to enter the hills before his resignation,” Gurung said after arriving at Bagdogra airport from Calcutta this afternoon.

The Morcha chief was surrounded by at least 1,000 supporters as he spoke. “Even after his resignation, it will be risky for him to go to Darjeeling because the frustrated and deprived people there don’t want to see his face,” Gurung said.

Asked about the chief minister’s assurance that the GNLF chief would quit the council in 10 days, Gurung said: “I’m happy but the struggle is not over as we have to achieve our ultimate goal of a Gorkhaland state.”

He added: “Ghisingh is still in his post and we look for- ward to seeing him step down soon.”

Although Gurung appeared restrained, his supporters did not hide their glee. Shouting slogans, they greeted their leader with a khada (a Nepali silk scarf) and garlands.

Gurung reiterated that his party would not object to the appointment of any government official as the caretaker administrator of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council.

In Siliguri, Bhattacharjee let out a sigh of relief. “I was pretty tense over the past few days because of the problem in Darjeeling,” he said at the Citu state conference.

“Our prime concern is to maintain peace and harmony in the hills and the plains. We thus insisted on a discussion and worked out some amicable solutions. Such effective dialogues will continue to help avoid any unpleasant situation.”

Had the disturbance in the hills lingered, the chief minister said, the impact would have been felt in Siliguri, which was “rapidly changing and developing”.

“We want people to act sensibly and forestall any such disorder,” he said.

“Darjeeling district is a mini-India, where people of different castes, creeds and languages live like the many petals of a flower. This harmony should be maintained.”