GJM proposes interim set-up prior to Gorkhaland

Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has proposed to the Centre the establishment of an interim regional set up till December 31, 2011, prior to the creation of a separate “Gorkhaland” State.

“The set-up will in effect be a State within a State,” Harkha Bahadur Chettri, senior GJM leader and member of its central committee, told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling district on Monday.

The GJM has been demanding the creation of “Gorkhaland” comprising Darjeeling district and areas contiguous to it in the Dooars and Terai regions of north Bengal.

The “secret proposal,” which was sent to the Centre earlier this year by GJM president Bimal Gurung, was made public three days before the political-level talks to be held in New Delhi between representatives of the Centre, the West Bengal government and the GJM leadership.

The interim set-up, it has been proposed, should be termed either the “Gorkhaland Regional Authority” or the “Darjeeling Dooars Regional Authority,” Mr. Chettri said. The option in nomenclature has been suggested in deference to the wishes of certain sections of the tribal community in the Dooars, who might have misgivings over the connotations of the term Gorkhaland, he added.

“The proposal contains 102 subjects. The set-up will comprise 55 members. Also asked for in it is total legislative powers besides fiscal freedom from the West Bengal government and direct Central assistance. Besides, we have demanded a separate judiciary and a home department,” Mr. Chettri said. “The interim set-up should have nothing to do with the West Bengal government and no State laws should be applicable,” he added. “Whatever the conditions and provisions of the interim set-up, it will not diminish or affect in any way our demand for a Gorkhaland State,” he added. The West Bengal government has already made clear its opposition to any bifurcation of the State. It, however, has agreed to enhance the powers of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council or any other body that could replace the Council.