GTA reconstituted, rebel GJM leader Tamang is chairperson

In a significant move that may impact the ongoing agitation in the Darjeeling hills, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday reconstituted the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) and appointed rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha ( GJM) leader Binoy Tamang as its chairperson.

The GTA is a regional autonomous body set up after a tripartite agreement among the Centre, the State and the GJM in 2011.

GJM president Bimal Gurung was elected its chief executive in 2012, but he and other office-bearers resigned on June 23, 2017 when the agitation for a separate Gorkhaland State gained momentum in the hills.

“Today we have taken a very important decision… Under Section 65 of the GTA Act, we have appointed a board of administrators comprising eight members to look after the functioning of GTA,” Ms. Banerjee said in Kolkata.

Ms. Banerjee said she had tried to accommodate people from all regions in the hills.

Anit Thapa, a close aide of Mr. Tamang, has been elected vice-chairman.

Both Mr. Tamang and Mr. Thapa were expelled from the GJM after they announced withdrawal of the Darjeeling shutdown.

They are both considered close to Ms. Banerjee.

The eight-member body included GJM MLA from Darjeeling Amar Singh Rai and president of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) Mann Ghising.

Move criticised

The development triggered strong reactions not only from the GJM, but also other political parties and groups in the hills.

General secretary of the GNLF, Mahendra Chettri, said the Chief Minister had picked Mr. Ghising without his consent.

The newly set up National Gorkhaland Committee, which comprises civil society members, said the “arrangement does not address the aspirations of the people.”

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