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Darjeeling tripartite accord to be signed on Monday

New set-up to be called ‘Gorkhaland Territorial Administration'

The memorandum of agreement to pave the way for establishment of a new elected administrative body for the Darjeeling hills will be signed at a tripartite meeting involving the Centre, the State Government and the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) at Sukna in Darjeeling district on July 18.

Announcing this here on Friday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram and she will be among those present on the occasion. Leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra has also been invited.

The GJM will be represented, among others, by its president Bimal Gurung.

“We are very happy that the agreement is to be signed….The proposal to name the new set-up ‘Gorkhaland Territorial Administration' has been accepted,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

Bandh observed

Ms. Banerjee's announcement came on the first day of a series of bandhs called by various organisations in north Bengal that is to continue till July 19 in protest against the setting up of the new body for the hills, particularly in the context of the claims of the GJM leadership that the set-up is a step towards the creation of a separate Gorkhaland State which it is demanding.

CM's assurance

Critical of certain “divisive” forces driven by “narrow political interests” for spreading “false propaganda so that the Darjeeling problem is not solved”, Ms. Banerjee asserted that the “main purpose” of the tripartite agreement is to ensure “all stays well in both the hills and the plains”.

Dismissing apprehensions that the formation of the new set-up meant the Darjeeling hills “is going out of our hands”, she said that on the contrary “it would only further integrate Darjeeling with us”.

“Just as Kashmir is close to the country's heart, Darjeeling is to West Bengal's”, the Chief Minister said.

Ms. Banerjee, who had earlier wanted the tripartite agreement to be signed in Darjeeling, said that the choice of Sukna, a town in Darjeeling district located in the foothills, as the venue was “a precautionary measure” in view of the “uncertain weather” in the hills during the monsoon.

Asked to comment on the questions raised over the inclusion of the term “Gorkhaland” in the name agreed upon for the new administrative set-up, she said a single word mattered little.

“There are those who engage in mischievous politics (over such matters),” she said. And then, in an oblique reference to the previous Left Front government, added: “There is no reason to think that if someone cannot achieve anything, none else can.”

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