Tag Archives: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha

In head-on fight with dev plank, Gorkhaland sentiment wins again in Darjeeling Hills


NOTWITHSTANDING the extensive campaign for months by several ministers, Darjeeling Hills have remained out of bound for Trinamool in the civic polls, the counting votes for which took place today, 17 May.

The results have reaffirmed that when it comes to choosing between development and Gorkhaland statehood sentiment, people in the Hills prefer to be emotive than clever.

This is despite the fact that Trinamool government had pumped in crores of rupees through 15 development boards formed for various ethnic groups in the Hills, and also contested the municipal elections in alliance with Gorkha National Liberation Front that had waged the first bout of Gorkhaland Movement between 1986 and 1988.

Mamata Banerjee’s party has, however, succeeded to germinate its seed by capturing the Mirik civic body that was part of Siliguri Assembly constituency until 2011 when delimitation relocated it under the Kurseong Assembly segment.

Trinamool has also won a handful of seats in Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong municipalities. In that sense, it is for the first time in 28 years since 1989 that a political party from the plains has managed to get a toehold in the Hills. Before the first Gorkhaland Movement breaking out in 1986, CPI-M and Congress used to have a sound electoral presence in the Hills.

Going by the overall results of the civic polls, out of the 32 seats in Darjeeling Municipality, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has won 31 and Trinamool 1. In Kurseong out of the 20 seats, GJM has won 17 and Trinamool 3; and at Kalimpong, out of the 23 seats, GJM has captured 19, Trinamool 2, and Jan Andolan Party of ex-GJM leader Harka Bahadur Chhetri 2.

As regards Mirik civic body, out of the 9 seats, Trinamool has wrested 6, and GJM 3. When civic elections were held in Darjeeling Hills last time in 2012, GJM had pocketed Darjeeling, Kurseong, and Kalimpong municipalities uncontested, but in Mirik it had to suffer defeat to Independent candidates backed by the CPI-M in two seats.

In this civic election, a combination of factors has acted in favour of Trinamool in Mirik. First, Trinamool government made Mirik a sub-division only about a month before the elections. Second, in as many as 7 wards, the government gave land rights to hundreds of landless families.

Last but not the least, due to being part of Siliguri Assembly segment until 2011, CPI-M used to give a special attention on Mirik and maintain a sound organisation keeping the practice of political fight alive. This made Mirik not to succumb to the monopoly of GJM in 2012, and now in 2017, it has make Mirik align with the Trinamool.

(Author is editor, NEWSMEN, Kolkata. This report first appeared on www.newsmen.in on 17 May 2017.)



Govt drafts GTA election rules

By bappaditya paul

Faced with the Bimal Gurung-led Gorkha Jan Mukti   Morcha’s (GJMM) threat of a renewed Gorkhaland agitation, the state government, headed by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, seems to have expedited the process of forming an autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

As part of the move, the state government has drafted separate election rules for GTA.

The government has extended the term, by six months, of the high-powered committee headed by retired Justice Mr Shyamal Sen entrusted to finalise the GTA territory and also the President’s assent is awaited for the GTA Bill.

The draft GTA Election Rules, containing 50-odd pages, has been prepared by the state home department. It has drawn provisions from the Representation of the People Act, 1951; Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 and the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (Election) Rules, 1988.

The draft is expected to be finalised in a week or so by a committee on GTA headed by state home secretary GD Gautama. It will then be sent to the state law department for clearance.

In the final leg, the GTA Election Rules will go to the state Assembly for ratification ~ provided President Pratibha Patil has given her assent to the GTA Bill by then, thus making it an Act.

The GTA Bill was passed in the state Assembly on 2 September 2011 and was sent for the President’s approval in December.

According to sources in the state home department, the proposed GTA Election Rules have certain special features that were not part of the DGHC (Election) Rules.

“In the DGHC (Election) Rules there was provision for holding elections on ballot papers only. In the proposed GTA’s rules we have added the option of EVMs. Since the GTA will be a more powerful autonomous administrative body, we have incorporated clauses on Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and other measures to curb corrupt practices during elections,” said a senior official.

Once finalised, the GTA Election Rules will govern the direct elections for the 45 proposed constituencies of the GTA Sabha. The Sabha will also have five members nominated by the state government. These 50 members in turn will elect a chairperson from amongst themselves.

It is however, not yet clear if the GTA elections will be conducted by the State Election Commission (SEC) or the government would appoint a special election officer as was the case with the DGHC.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 4 February 2012.)