Demand to send it to a select committee rejected
The West Bengal Legislative Assembly on Friday passed the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Bill overruling a demand by the Opposition to send it to a select committee for further discussions.
Amid charges by the Treasury Benches as well as the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) legislators that this amounted to delaying tactics, Leader of the Opposition Surjyakanta Mishra said that peace and development go hand-in-hand and there was need to further discuss matters in a peaceful environment. He said peace might have returned to Darjeeling, but there was tension in the Dooars and Terai regions.
He later told reporters that the government was confused and doing things that might be ultra vires of the Constitution.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the agreement that preceded the Bill as historic, saying that now the Bill will have to be converted into Act. She decried any move by the Opposition to drive a wedge between the people in the Dooars, Terai region with that of the Hills people saying that both are dear to the ruling government.
“Terai and Dooars are as dear to us as Darjeeling,” she said, alleging that talks had been held by her with Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikas Parishad who were misled.
GJM leader Harka Bahadur Chhetri described the day as a historic one which will open a new chapter for Darjeeling as well as `PaschimBanga'. He told reporters that harmony, peace and progress will now rule Darjeeling. He also said that most of the problems of Darjeelingwould be solved with the formation of the GTA.
The Bill was passed with many amendments – some from the Opposition and some introduced by the Government to accommodate points of objection raised by the GJM following the circulation of the Bill earlier this week. Mr Chhetri highlighted this aspect while talking to reporters saying that the GJM found 24 points where the Bill was in disagreement with the agreement signed in June with the government. “The Government has addressed all those issues.”
The preamble to the Bill says it will provide for establishment of a Gorkhaland Territorial Administration for the region comprising the three sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, Kurseong and some mouzas of Siliguri sub-division in Darjeeling district. The objective was to establish an autonomous self-governing body to administer the region.