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Updated: December 5, 2010 16:41 IST

Minister floats formula to break Darjeeling hill deadlock

PTI
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A file picture of West Bengal Municipal Affaris Minister Asoke Bhattacharya. Photo: DIPR
The Hindu
A file picture of West Bengal Municipal Affaris Minister Asoke Bhattacharya. Photo: DIPR

With the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha set to launch a fresh movement in Darjeeling from tomorrow, State Urban Development Minister Asoke Bhattacharya proposed a formula to resolve the deadlock over modalities for substituting the existing hill council by an interim set-up.

With elections to the local bodies in the hills long overdue, Mr. Bhattacharya, who represents Siliguri constituency, has suggested linking proportionate representation of the parties to the results of the panchayat and the municipal polls.

The setting up of an interim set-up for two years as a substitute for the existing Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) with greater autonomy and power, was resolved at the recent political level tripartite meeting in New Delhi where GJM chief Bimal Gurung was present.

The GJM is demanding setting up of the interim council by December 20.

Although a solution was found to give greater autonomy to the hills without dividing the State after a series of tripartite talks, its implementation hit a bottleneck as the West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya was in favour of a democratic process to set up the interim council.

However, the GJM was against holding any election and wanted to form the set-up with its nominated members only.

The GJM has announced closure of all government and non-government offices from tomorrow and a 48-hour bandh in the Darjeeling hills from December 21 if the set-up was not in place by December 20.

Mr. Bhattacharya told PTI today that a democratic process would have to be followed as there were other political parties in the hills and the GJM could not be taken to represent the sole authority of the hill people.

“If they were unwilling to go for polls to form the set-up they could go for election for the two-tier panchayet and municipal polls which were long due. On the basis of proportionate result of political parties, the set-up could be formed,” he said.

Elections to the municipal body has not been held for the last three years since the GJM came to the scene.

When asked whether it was an official proposal, Mr. Bhattacharya said that it was his “personal proposal” keeping in mind the principle of the Raya Sabha polls.

A party spokesman when contacted said the GJM was not interested to comment on anybody’s personal proposal. “We can discuss it if it comes to us officially,” he added.


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