Gurung to be back as GTA chief, to take oath on 26 Dec
In an interesting turn of events, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung said on Friday that he will take the oath as chief of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration – an autonomous development council created for the hill districts of Bengal – on 26 December.
At a meeting with West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee at the state secretariat Nabanna on Friday, Gurung pressed for the release of arrested GJM leaders and requested that the panchayat elections be held in the hills by next July. Around 1,400 activists were arrested by the state government in the recent crackdown in the hills.
‘There will be an oath-taking ceremony on 26 December at the Raj Bhavan in Kolkata and after that GTA will be functioning,’ Gurung said here after meeting Banerjee.
The first chief executive of the GTA, Gurung resigned from the post to step up the movement for Gorkhaland – to be carved out of the Darjeeling district and parts of Jalpaiguri district – following the Congress-led UPA’s approval of Telengana.
However, the Bengal government hit back by arresting a large number of GJM leaders and workers, besides its principal fund providers.Buckling under the massive crackdown, the GJM has been sending out feelers for quite some time to the government that it wished to return to the negotiating table and carry out development of the Darjeeling hills.
The GTA was created July 18, 2011 via a tripartite agreement between the GJM and the state and central governments.The GJM swept the GTA’s maiden elections last year.
Asked about its demand for Gorkhaland, Gurung said: ‘This is not the issue right now. We talked about the growth and development of GTA and also about the panchayat system because there has to be a panchayat election there immediately’.
On arrests of GJM’s leaders he said: ‘Whether to arrest or not ... I have told the CM that the situation is good and normal in the hills. So what is the need to keep them under arrest?’
He also urged tourists to visit Darjeeling.