Opposition questions granting of tribal status to Darjeeling

Statesman News Service
KALIMPONG, Nov. 21. — In retaliation to the latest political claims by the Union government, that a memorandum of settlement for the tribal status under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution for Darjeeling will be signed later this month, the hill Opposition questioned the possibility of the grant of status if the democratic norms of constitutional amendment are actually to be pursued.
Asked about the validity of the status, the People’s Democratic Front (PDF) chairman, Mr Madan Tamang, said: “Who is going to place the bill in the Parliament, when and how. Will it get popular support in the house? This is where the hill people are being cheated repeatedly. How is he (Mr Subash Ghisingh) going to sign the accord without the people’ s mandate? He had lost the power to do so after the term of the council expired on 26 March (2004),” Mr Tamang said. Even the GNLF (C) alleged of foul play both by the Centre and the state for somehow entertaining the DGHC caretaker cum administrator Mr Subash Ghisingh for reasons unknown.
“There will be chaos in the hills if the tribals are given more preference. The only permanent solution for this is the transformation of all the hill people into tribals,” GNLF (C) chief convener Col (retd) DK Pradhan said. “Before the signing of the accord the details should be made public in black and white. How can one person (Mr Ghisingh), decide upon the future of the hills,” he said claiming it as a democratic demand. The PDF has time and again stated that in the given situation, since no party is in power, all hill political parties should be treated equal.
A section of analysts have termed it only as a move by the state to appease Mr Ghisingh before the forthcoming state legislative elections, as disturbance of any sort would affect the Left Front. “In the absence of an elected representative Mr Ghisingh, can’t in any way act as if he has won popular support. At the same time the state and Centre’s move to appease him is really curious,” an intelligence source said.

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