Set-up by Dec. 20 or back to statehood: Morcha. Locks and rallies till deadline

The Telegraph
VIVEK CHHETRI

Darjeeling, Nov. 28: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today set a December 20 deadline for the state and the Centre to finalise the interim authority failing which it will launch an agitation starting with a 48-hour general strike from the next day.

The party also warned that this time the agitation would be for a “final solution” or statehood.

To keep the momentum going till the deadline, the Morcha, perhaps buoyed by the presence of thousands of supporters — the hill town looked shut from 11am to 4pm — at the Darjeeling Motor Stand today, has also decided to organise a series of rallies and public meetings from December 5.

The party also announced that it would shut down all government offices, except for the chambers of the district magistrate and the superintendent of police, from December 6.

Addressing the meeting at the Motor Stand, Morcha president Bimal Gurung said he had not forgotten the ultimate goal. “I am happy to see such a huge gathering and I want to assure our people that we have not forgotten our ultimate goal. We respect the leaders who are governing the country and the governments. This is why we are accepting their proposal for an interim set-up, but on our terms, for two years.”

In a clear move to put pressure on both the state and the Centre, Gurung said the hills would wait only till December 20. “We had not asked for the interim set-up, it was the government’s idea. If they can’t implement it by December 20, we will go in for a final solution (statehood). “The agitation for the final solution will start with a 48-hour general strike in the hills from December 21.”

Gurung’s threat is an indication that he wants the interim set-up at the earliest. “Perhaps he also wants to pressure the government to accept all his demands,” said an observer.

The rallies from December 5 will be held to demand the inclusion of the tauzi department in the interim set-up, one of the contentious issues that the Morcha and the government are yet to thrash out.

“Leaders must also submit memorandums to the district magistrate everyday to demand the inclusion of the tauzi department in the interim set-up,” said Gurung. “From December 6, all government offices except for the chambers of the district magistrate and the superintendent of police will remain closed.”

Taking potshots at “intellectuals” and the “opposition” parties, he said: “I had tried to seek help from everybody when I first floated the party. They all promised to help but did nothing at the end except for opposing us. I had even offered to make R.B. Rai, (of the CPRM) the Morcha general secretary but he had rejected the offer,” said Gurung.

Among the “intellectuals”, Sikkim University vice-chancellor Mahindra P. Lama, a native of Darjeeling, was in the line of fire. “I had wanted M.P. Lama to play an active role in the party but he said he was in service. He occupies an important chair in Sikkim. But has he done anything for the people of Darjeeling?” But even then “M.P. Lama might be the person whom we would want in the interim-set-up,” said Gurung.

R.B. Rai admitted that Gurung had offered him the general secretary’s post. “It was not a formal offer but there were such a talk. I being a Communist leader have my own ideologies. It was impossible for me to join them.”

The Morcha president said he would once again try and hold an all-party meeting to convince “opposition” outfits the benefits of the interim set-up. He had made a similar offer to all the political parties earlier this month but it was rejected by the Democratic Front, an anti-Morcha conglomeration.

Later a panel discussion on the pros and cons of the interim authority was hosted by an apolitical organisation. The ABGL and the GNLF (C) along with the Morcha’s Roshan Giri had participated in the discussion. The CPRM had stayed away.

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www.kalimpong.info

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