Voices I have heard:-
These are extraordinary times for us living in the hills. A juggernaut who ruled these hills for the last 2 decades is now almost history. Over the weeks of turmoil, one could hear a multiplicity of voices echoing hopes, fears, expectations and verdicts of people who made this change happen. Here is a sampling of the voices I have heard (mostly of ordinary people; some of party leaders and maybe you can add your own):-
1. The roads can’t get worse, neither can the water supply…we are at the rock bottom, things will only improve.
2. Bimal was one of them (GNLF), leopards don’t change their spots…nothing will change.
3. They (GNLF) did nothing for twenty years. The leaders were a bunch of corrupt, dullards who only looked after themselves…there should be a CBI enquiry to expose them.
4. I want Bimal not because I like him but because I hate Ghisingh.
5. The contractors spoilt us (– statement by a GNLF councilor)
6. Ambo! This time it was woman power (which drove the movement).
7. It was quite simple- to remove Ghisingh one only had to be more brazen than him.
8. Known devils (GNLF) are better than unknown gods (GJMM).
9. The easiest part (toppling Ghisingh) is over…from now on the road is really slippery.
10. The GNLF should stay otherwise GJMM will become like them (without an effective opposition)
11. Kudos to the GJMM for achieving so much without resorting to violence… the Shiv Sena thugs could well learn many lessons from them - indeed the rest of India too.
12. It was the scores of young men and women on hunger strike which finally brought the Govt. of W. Bengal to its knees.
13. Ghisingh was a dictatorial megalomaniac who did not allow a second rung leader that is why the GNLF has collapsed like a house of cards – now that he is going.
14. They(Govt.) should not have given him (Ghisingh) 10 days time…now that he has time, he will be upto his tricks again..I just don’t trust him or the Govt. of W. Bengal.
15. In the right hands, the Sixth Schedule would have been good for us.
16. Subash Ghisingh is an emperor without subjects (– poster in Kalimpong)
17. I still consider myself king of the hills- Ghisingh in Kolkatta (Feb2008).
18. I am king of Kalimpong – late CK Pradhan in a TV interview, years ago.
19. The people have spoken. Their disillusionment with the GNLF party is complete.
20. Thanks to the GJMM we can now speak out!
21. Years of suppressed frustration and impotent rage are now spilling out on the streets.
22. How come the Govt. of W Bengal fails to see the writing on the wall?- tens of thousands of people turning up spontaneously on the streets day after day to rally for a change (in the political climate) and they still insist on trying to prop up a stooge.
23. I hope we are not jumping from the frying pan (GNLF) into the fire (GJMM).
24. I hope the GJMM learns from the mistakes of the GNLF!
25. The first thing they (GJMM) should address is the water problem.
26. So much happened and is happening but where is Barkha Dutt ?
27. Under Ghisingh, it was the contractor’s raj!
28. We were afraid during the GNLF rule. No one could speak out openly.
29. This party (GJMM) is better because there is a group of intellectuals behind Bimal.
Praful Rao an introduction
a.) Born to a South Indian father and a Nepalese mother, in Kalimpong. Both parents were doctors in the Royal Indian Army Medical Corps.
b.) Schooling in Dr Graham’s Homes, Kalimpong. Graduated from St Joseph’s College, North Point, Darjeeling ((BSc Hons Chemistry in 1972).
c.) Served 25 yrs in the IAF
d.) Currently involved in
i) Landslide prevention campaign in the Darjeeling hills (http://www.savethehills.blogspot.com )
ii) Anti HIV/AIDS work in Kalimpong (http://www.handskalimpong.org )
iii) His photography (http://prafulrao.com )
He is also Secretary of Kalimpong Consumer Association and involved in many other social issues.