It has taken the West Bengal government more than two months and the intervention of the Calcutta High Court to concede the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s (GJM) demand that the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) be consulted in the appointment of its principal secretary.
This is significant at a time when relations between the State government and the GJM leadership are under stress, though it left the latter somewhat confounded.
“The Court directed the State’s Advocate General to ensure that a list with three names recommended for the post of GTA principal secretary be submitted by next Wednesday. But, about five minutes after we emerged from the courtroom, did we learn that the list had already reached Lalkuthi (the GTA headquarters) in Darjeeling earlier today [Friday]. It contained names of not three, but four senior IAS officers,” GJM assistant secretary Benoy Tamang told The Hindu on Friday.
“What is most surprising is that it bore yesterday’s [Thursday’s] date,” he added.
Mr. Tamang had filed a writ petition in the Court on March 25 against the Mamata Banerjee government, accusing it of violating the GTA agreement by unilaterally appointing the Darjeeling district magistrate as the GTA’s principal secretary — an official whose removal was sought by the GTA Sabha in a resolution on February 6.
“We may have won the legal battle but what was revealed today is the utter lack of coordination between the State government and its Advocate General. The Court was told by the Advocate General earlier in the day that the list of names was ready and awaiting the signature of the Chief Minister who has been unwell,” said Mr. Tamang, who is also a member of the GTA Sabha.
“Yes, this absence of coordination between the government and its counsel has left us confused though it is a welcome sign that our demand that the GTA be consulted in appointing its principal secretary has been met,” said GJM general secretary Roshan Giri on the phone from Bagdogra airport. Continuing with the DM as GTA principal secretary ever since the body was set up has been a sticking point between the GJM that controls the GTA and the government.