Interview | Anit Thapa | Kolkata

Anit Thapa: ‘GTA election marks the beginning of practical politics in the Darjeeling Hills’

Bhartiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha chief Anit Thapa after victory in GTA polls at Kurseong

Bhartiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha chief Anit Thapa after victory in GTA polls at Kurseong | Photo Credit: Debasish Bhaduri

Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) chiefAnit Thapahas won the elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). Elections to the GTA, the regional autonomous body of the Darjeeling Hills, which comprise Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, were held after a period of 10 years, and Mr. Thapa’s party, the BGPM, won 27 of the 45 seats in the GTA. Mr. Thapa, who is all set to become the Chairperson of the GTA, was in Kolkata on Tuesday to meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In an interview with The Hindu’s Shiv Sahay Singh, the 49-year-old politician feels that along with support of the West Bengal Government, he can usher in development in the Darjeeling Hills. Excerpts:

Your campaign for the GTA polls was on the promise of peace and development. You must be happy that it worked out.

Peace is not enough for the people of the Darjeeling Hills. It has been five years since the 2017 [100-day strike and violent agitation for Gorkhaland] agitation and we have been able to maintain peace. People of the hills want prosperity now. The GTA elections and the mandate of the people in our favour heralds the beginning of practical politics in the Darjeeling Hills.

What are challenges before GTA?

There are a lot of challenges before the GTA. Everything has collapsed in the hills; there is no panchayat system in Darjeeling. But nothing is impossible. With the support of the West Bengal Government, we will be able to make a difference in the lives of the people. The GTA is under the West Bengal Government and we will have to work together.

You have been at the helm of affairs at GTA in the past. How is it different this time?

This time, I have the mandate from the people.  Last time, the West Bengal Government had appointed me for restoring peace in the hills. On this occasion, with the support of the people behind me, I can bargain with the West Bengal Government as far as the interest of the people of the hills is concerned.

Were you confident that your party would secure victory, contesting only 35 of the 45 seats in the GTA?

I was confident because my opponents were making only false promises. In their campaigns, they were saying that they don’t like the GTA. If they don’t like the GTA or are not in favour of the GTA, then why should they seek votes from the people in the GTA polls? Ajay Edwards [chief of the Hamro Party] has the same line — that they don’t want to work with the State government. Bimal Gurung [founder of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha] had also taken the same line in the past. For the past three to four decades, this has been the history of leadership in the hills, be it [in] the time of Subhas Ghising [founder of the Gorkha National Liberation Front] or Bimal Gurung. They would just shout at the Bengal government and get the votes of the people. This ploy has been used to fool the people of the hills. The people of hills have suffered not because of the West Bengal Government or the Centre; they have suffered just because of hills’ leaders.

Will the TMC Sabhasads (members of the GTA) be included in the GTA Board?

I want everyone to be part of the GTA. This is important for the unity of the hills. As the Chairperson, I want all the Sabhasads of the hills together.

What do you want to say to parties who did not contest the GTA polls?

In fact, all the parties contested. Whether it was the GJM [Gorkha Janmukti Morcha] or others. They had all fielded Independents. There was a tacit understanding between parties like the GJM and the Hamro Party. So it cannot be said that these parties really stayed away from the polls.


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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 3:34:44 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/gta-election-marks-the-beginning-of-practical-politics-in-the-darjeeling-hills/article65603076.ece