ABGL plans rally to cement hill base – CPM on mission to gain foothold

The Telegraph
VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, June 25: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha might have been able to contain the backlash following the murder of ABGL president Madan Tamang, but the rivals seem determined to create some political space in the hills and have started their groundwork.

To start with, the ABGL has once again decided to organise a peace rally in Darjeeling.

“The rally will be held soon,” said ABGL leader Mohan Sharma. “We shall decide on the date tomorrow.”

The ABGL had earlier demonstrated in front of Darjeeling Sadar police station followed by a peace rally on June 21 — a month after the murder — when the hills had been shut because of the strike called by the Morcha.

Today, Asok Bhattacharya, the CPM heavyweight of north Bengal, paid a visit to Mungpoo, about 40km from Darjeeling, to pay his respects to Rabindranath Tagore at the bungalow where the bard had often stayed between 1938 and 1940.

Observers believe the urban development minister’s visit underlines the CPM’s efforts to be visible in the hills given the fact that he has hardly visited Darjeeling since the Morcha was formed in 2007.

The CPM did not even campaign in the hills during the last parliamentary elections with Bhattacharya visiting Darjeeling only when party candidate Jibesh Sarkar filed his nomination papers.

After the elections, the only time the minister had visited Darjeeling was to express his condolences to the bereaved family of Tamang.

But today, Bhattacharya promised to visit Darjeeling again.

The bungalow where Tagore had stayed had been neglected for long and Bhattacharya promised to start its renovation by the end of the year. “For three years, attention could not be paid to the place because of various reasons. The structure is fine but the ceiling is leaking, the floor has to be changed and electrification needs to be done,” said Bhattacharya.

Apprehending opposition to Bhattacharya’s visit, the administration had made adequate security arrangements and had also posted the CRPF personnel. Some black flags were noticed by the police almost an hour before the minister was scheduled to visit the bungalow and they were immediately removed.

Apart from the ABGL, the Democratic Front, which is an anti-Morcha front, has also decided to hold a public meeting in Darjeeling soon.

The front had decided to hold a public meeting in Darjeeling yesterday but had postponed it saying most of the ABGL leaders, along with Bharati Tamang, the slain leader’s widow, had gone to Calcutta on Wednesday to meet the chief minister and would not be able to come back to Darjeeling on time.

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www.kalimpong.info

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