Morcha happy with panel go-slow on bill

Darjeeling, Feb. 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is jubilant that a parliamentary panel has appeared to have put the brakes on the Sixth Schedule bill that would have accorded special status to the Darjeeling hills instead of statehood.

The committee, led by BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, has cautioned and advised Parliament “to make fresh assessment of the “ground realities all over again” before proceeding with the bill in the two Houses.

“The panel could not come to the hills to collect first-hand information on ground realities. This was reflected in its report and we welcome it. The aspiration of the hill people must be taken into consideration before any further steps are taken. The report will definitely damage the Sixth Schedule bill now,” said Bimal Gurung, the Morcha president, from Calcutta.

Gurung has been camping there, demanding the removal of Subash Ghisingh as caretaker administrator of the DGHC. The Morcha had earlier alleged that the Bengal government, in connivance with Ghisingh, had stopped the panel from visiting the hills citing law and order problems.

The GNLF, which was banking on the bill being passed in the budget session, has been pushed to the wall. The party had been maintaining that if the Sixth Schedule does not get passed during the budget session, it would start the Gorkhaland agitation.

Deepak Gurung, the president of the Darjeeling Branch Committee of the GNLF, said: “It is for Parliament to reassess the situation. We have no problems with it, but we stick to our stand: the bill must be passed in the budget session.”

Pranay Rai, the GNLF MLA from Darjeeling has, however, requested Ghisingh to resign following today’s development. “He should now join hands with others to strengthen the Gorkhaland movement,” Rai said from Calcutta.

Madan Tamang, the president of the ABGL, an anti-GNLF party, however, cautioned the people about the government’s game plan.

“The panel has asked the government to reassess the situation. It means the review will be done by the government, not the panel. Some changes will probably be made and the bill will be passed before the second state reorganisation committee is formed prior to the general elections.”

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