VIVEK CHHETRI AND RAJEEV RAVIDAS
Darjeeling/Kalimpong, Jan. 27: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today rejected the “idea of interim set-up” apparently because the Centre had plans to draw up the proposal afresh against the wishes of the party.
The Morcha also suspended its ongoing shutdown from January 29 to February 7 and instead, will hold hunger strikes at different government offices in the hills during the period.
The latest stand by the Morcha could throw the hills into a fresh turmoil as the interim set-up was being seen as a mutually accepted arrangement that could bring about peace in the region for two years.
The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Morcha central committee at Kumani. A five-member Morcha delegation which had held talks with Union home minister P. Chidambaram in New Delhi on January 25 briefed the committee on the meeting. The delegation was led by general secretary Roshan Giri.
“We deliberated on the home minister’s statement that the interim set-up was a step towards attaining Gorkhaland. The idea of interim set-up was rejected by the party,” said Giri today.
It is not clear why the party has rejected the interim arrangement. Sources, however, said the Morcha leadership was peeved that the Centre wanted to draw up a fresh proposal on the interim set-up which was mooted till December 31, 2011.
“Since there were differences between the state and the Morcha on some issues, the Centre wanted to moot a final proposal. This was conveyed to the Morcha during the Delhi talks,” said a source.
Although major points of difference are not fully known, some of the thorny issues were the transfer of tauzi department (which keeps land records) and transfer of legislative powers to the new body.
The Centre also wanted the Bengal government and the Morcha to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the set-up by the first week of February, though the arrangement was to be put in place after the Bengal assembly elections.
Observers believe that the Morcha was unlikely to have any problems with the signing of the MoU before February but were not comfortable with the interim authority that is not in accordance with the terms set by the party.
“The central committee meeting has rejected the interim set-up. There might have been a division between hardliners and moderates in the party. The hardliners perhaps want that the party should not be seen as too willing to go in for the interim set-up before a final call is made on the Telangana issue,” said an observer.
With the larger issue of the interim set-up being taken off its agenda, the Morcha has decided to change its mode of agitation. The party has suspended the ongoing general strike from Saturday till February 7 and has decided to start 24-hour relay hunger strikes.
“Seven Morcha members each will sit on 24-hour relay hunger strikes from January 29 to February 7 at block and subdivisional offices and in front of the district magistrate’s office. The fast will provide moral support to the president for the padayatra,” said Giri.