Morcha off to meet ‘mediator’ MP – Deadline & sudden Delhi trip point to loose ends

The Telegraph

Darjeeling, Nov. 29: A four-member Gorkha Janmukti Morcha delegation led by Roshan Giri left for Delhi today to meet Jaswant Singh, a day after the party set a December 20 deadline for the Centre and the state to establish the interim authority.

Going by the composition of the delegation, the Darjeeling MP is probably acting as a mediator between the party and the Centre and is expected to help thrash out the contentious issues before the final agreement on the interim authority is drawn up.

Tight-lipped about the delegation’s objectives, Giri said: “We are going to meet Jaswant Singh. This is our only agenda right now.”

The three members of the team are former chief secretary of Andhra Pradesh Trilok Dewan, former principal secretary of DGHC L.B. Pariyar and party spokesperson Harka Bahadur Chhetri. The four members have been an integral part of the tripartite meetings between the Morcha and the Centre and the state in the past.

Observers believe that the team is probably trying to hold negotiations with the Centre through Singh to thrash out four contentious issues: mode of selection to the interim set-up, transfer of tauzi department, procedure for handing over of legislative powers and the territorial jurisdiction of the new body.

After meeting Union home minister P. Chidambaram on November 1 along with Singh who had then mediated between the two sides, Morcha president Bimal Gurung had announced that “only one more meeting was needed to ink the deal”. But the Morcha’s announcement of the deadline yesterday and the sudden departure for Delhi today are pointers that the state government, which is already in an election mode, is probably not in agreement with the party on the four issues.

The Morcha had claimed that a joint verification committee would be formed to review its demand for the inclusion of Gorkha-dominated areas in the interim set-up, the report of which would be placed before the appropriate authority by May 2011.

The hill party had also claimed that the members running the interim authority would be nominated instead of being elected and that the transfer of the tauzi department had been broadly agreed upon. “Given the Morcha’s recent decision to hold rallies for the inclusion of the tauzi department and to set a time frame to sign the deal failing which it has threatened to launch an agitation for a final solution, it is obvious that all the loose ends are yet to be tied. There must have been objections from the state government and the team has probably left for Delhi to sort out the issues,” said an observer.

In the hills, rival GNLF iterated that the Sixth Schedule was the only viable solution. “Given the present situation, the Sixth Schedule is the only viable option and an agreement had already been reached with our party in 2005. The Sixth Schedule has constitutional guarantee and the same cannot be said of the interim set-up,” said Shivraj Thapa, media and publicity secretary of the GNLF’s Darjeeling sub-divisional committee.

Subash Ghisingh, the president of the GNLF, has already expressed his desire to return to the hills and this has also prompted a strong response from all political parties. “In a democracy, all parties are allowed to function. We, however, believe that the hill people have already rejected the Sixth Schedule status and Ghisingh should drop the idea of Sixth Schedule for a separate statehood,” said Narayan Chhetri, the spokesperson for the ABGL.

The CPRM added that if Ghisingh was to return to the hills, he should leave behind all his “bad habits”. “If he is to return he should leave behind his bad habits like confusing the general public and encouraging them to drink. The Sixth Schedule does have constitutional guarantee but the people have rejected it. Instead, he (Ghisingh) should concentrate on statehood,” said R.B. Rai, the general secretary of the CPRM.

Giri said Ghisingh must be day-dreaming about reviving the GNLF in the hills.


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