Siliguri, 10 March: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today supported Baichung
Bhutia’s ‘personal decision’ to seek support from Gorkha Jan Mukti
Morcha (GJMM) chief Bimal Gurung. A section of leaders in the Darjeeling
Hill Trinamul have objected to Mr Bhutia’s decision to reach out to the
GJMM for a possible tie-up during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“I support Baichung for his decision to call up Bimal Gurung. A
candidate can approach all persons who belong to other political
parties. We should not be critical over whether his phone call was
responded to positively or negatively,” Mr Deb told a press conference
The former Indian football captain telephoned Mr Gurung on Saturday and
sought the latter’s support in his poll bid in Darjeeling. Mr Gurung
refused to support Mr Bhutia and today, finally decided to “continue”
its “relations” with BJP.
Reacting to GJMM’s decision to support BJP in the polls, Mr Deb said:
“There is no chance of an alliance with GJMM. Being a political party,
it can go along with any political party. We do not bother about the
GJMM decision. But it is evident that the GJMM will be once again
criticised for supporting BJP.”
“Everybody knows that a section of the people put up ‘wanted’ posters of
Darjeeling MP Jaswant Singh, who, according to them, went missing (soon
after the 2009 elections) in Darjeeling Hills. Despite Mamata
Banerjee’s top priority to develop Darjeeling, if they go with BJP, we
will go it alone and campaign in the Hills from 12 March by highlighting
development plans for the people,” Mr Deb said. He added that he is
confident about Mr Bhutia winning the seat.
Acording to him, around 400 families from Savoke-10 Mile will join
Trinamul Congress, while several leaders belonging to different
political parties in Matigara and Naxalbari will follow suit.
A senior Congress activist, Ashok Bhagat, from ward no 5 in the Siliguri Municipal Corporation joined Trinamul today, he said.
In another context, Mr Deb said his party has constituted a north Bengal
Economic Forum, where around 30 persons, including 25 chartered
accountants, joined today.
Baichung pitches for development in Hills
The ‘son of the soil’ was back in Sikkim, and this time around he was not the much-loved soccer star.
Trinamul Congress candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency
and former captain of the Indian football team, Baichung Bhutia, today
held his first press conference as a politician in his hometown here.
A warm welcome accorded to him by the Sikkim Pradesh Trinamul Congress
(SPTMC). Mr Bhutia faced the media persons, eagerly waiting to hear him
out at the SPTC office in Tadong near Gangtok.
“I will never discriminate between the people of the Hills (Darjeeling) and my state Sikkim,” he said.
Mr Bhutia also sought the support of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front
as well as the opposition parties in helping Trinamul candidate win in
the upcoming general elections.
“As Sikkim has only one MP each in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the
state’s voice on important issues often goes unheard in Parliament, but
if SPTMC sends an MP from Sikkim, his voice will automatically resound
in the Parliament along with the voices of 42 other MPs of the TMC,” Mr
Bhutia said. “I will work sincerely, honestly and in a transparent
manner for the people of the Hills,” he added.According to him, his
target in Darjeeling will be to maintaining peace, development and
creation of opportunities.
On allegations that he is no longer the son of the soil since he is
fighting the polls from a different state, Baichung said they are all
‘political play for the personal gain of a few political
parties.”“Stepping into politics happened all of a sudden. I myself was
not aware of TMC giving me the ticket and I came to know of about this
through the media,” he said. “TMC is a party that is trying to bring
about development in the Hills and what the Hills needs at the moment is
development,” he added.
“The belt of Kurseong, Kalimpong and Darjeeling has been neglected since
long. The (Gorkhaland) agitation started in the Hills because of the
lack of opportunities, he said.
At the press meet, Mr Bhutia was accompanied by TMC District President Bhupendra Lepcha. Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha supporters from the Sikkim Chalak Morcha Youth,
and 30 other people joined TMC today to support Mr Bhutia in his fight
in the upcoming elections. (SNS)
Following the decision of Gorkha Jan Mukti Morcha (GJMM) to support
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the three Lok Sabha constituencies of
Darjeeling, Alipurduwar and Jalpaiguri, the prospects of Trinamul
Congress candidates in these three areas have gone bleak, feel leaders
across party lines in north Bengal.
The leaders say this situation has emerged even though GJMM president
Bimal Gurung has “lost absolute control” over the Gorkha community in
Leaders of the other political parties also predict that the vote bank
in the Darjeeling parliamentary segment, including the three Assembly
constituencies, will be divided among other mainstream political parties
and that the GJMM-backed BJP candidate has his task cut out. Trinamul
Congress candidate Baichung Bhutia and others, including CPI-M candidate
Saman Pathak and Independent candidate Mahendra P Lama are also very
much in the fray, while the Congress is yet to name its candidate there.
“GJMM’s decision to support BJP has apparently narrowed down the
Trinamul candidate’s prospects in the Hills, but this does not mean that
the BJP candidate will be able to taste win easily because Bimal Gurung
does not have supreme control over all Gorkha people,” a senior
Congress leader, Debaprasad Roy, said.
“So we should not expect election results similar to the ones in 2009 when Jaswant Singh was elected from Darjeeling,” he added.
According to him, the party high command will soon declare the name of
its candidate for the Darjeeling seat. North Bengal development minister
Gautam Deb said GJMM’s decision to support BJP is aimed at dividing
“My party candidate Baichung Bhutia will contest from Darjeeling with an
undivided Bengal as his theme. People from both the Hills and the
plains will favour us. GJMM no longer has the support base in the Hills
and even in the plains (four Assembly segments) that it enjoyed
earlier,” Mr Deb said. However, All India Gorkha League vice-president
Laxman Pradhan said: “GJMM has made a blunder in supporting BJP for the
Darjeeling seat. Since GJMM will run the GTA in association with the
Mamata Banerjee-led state government, Gurung should have extended
support to the Trinamul Congress candidate.”
“If the poll results go against Mamata Banerjee, she will take revenge
against GJMM, and the Hill people would ultimately suffer. The Morcha
now has no supreme control over the people in the Hills,” he added.
“Looking at it through a narrow mind, GJMM’s decision to support BJP
will go in favour of our two candidates in Alipurduar and Jalpaigur. But
politically speaking, we cannot encourage such support to BJP because
we are fighting to prevent BJP from coming to power,” the Jalpaiguri
district Left Front convernor and the CPI-M district secretary Krishna
Banerjee said. “We will wait and see how the political trend unfolds. We
will contest two LS seats and we are confident of our candidates
retaining two seats in Jalpaiguri district,” he said.
The Hill-based Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists spokesperson
Gobin Chhetri said: “CPRM will not support the Trinamul candidate and
the GJMM-backed BJP candidate may not be able to bag a remarkable number
Siliguri, 10 March: Demanding the Dalai Lama be conferred with the Bharat Ratna for
‘spreading international peace and understanding’ and he be invited to
deliver a speech in the Indian Parliament, the Core Group For Tibetan
Cause today said it will appeal to candidates contesting the Lok Sabha
elections to pitch for these demands forcefully.
The group also demanded the new government to be formed at the Centre
take initiatives to arrange a meeting between the Chinese government and
the Tibetans-in-exile over the Tibet issue.
"We will make such an appeal to the candidates from Darjeeling and
Jalpaiguri districts to make sure our demands are sufficiently
stressed," the group’s convener of the Northeast Region, Sonam Lhundup
Lama told a press meet here.
Mr Lama said senior functionaries of the group have so far met BJP Prime
Ministerial candidate and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi over the
"So far, we have not met any of the candidates from the region. We may
write to them detailing our demands when they visit the areas during
their poll campaign," he said. Among the Lok Sabha candidates, former
Indian football captain, Baichung Bhutia is contesting the polls on
Trinamul Congress ticket from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency. Mr
Bhutia had refused to carry the Olympic torch for the Beijing Olympics
in 2008, empathising with the cause for Tibet. "Mr Bhutia had refused to
carry the Olympic torch, but not just Mr Bhutia, we will appeal to all
the candidates contesting the Parliamentary elections to look into our
demands with a positive mind," Mr Lama said.
Marking the 55th Tibetan Uprising Day, the North East Zonal Tibetan
Youth Congress today served a memorandum to the Prime Minister, through
the office of the Siliguri sub-divisional officer, requesting the PM to
highlight the self-immolation that keeps occurring for the cause of
Tibet in the international platforms.(SNS)
Limbus, who are demanding a development board for their community on
the lines of the Lepcha Development Board, has announced their decision
of boycotting the Lok Sabha election this time.
Speaking over phone from Kalimpong,
Yakthung Shong Chumlung president ND Limbu confirmed the decision. He
said, "Our association held a meeting on Sunday and it was attended by
members from the hills and also from the plains of the Terai and Dooars.
Prioritising our demand for a separate development board that has gone
unheard so far, we have decided to boycott the LS election this time.”
The Limbu community was granted
Scheduled Tribe status in 2003 and has a population of more than 1.5
lakh in the hills alone, while another 10,000 are estimated to be living
in the Dooars, Siliguri and Salua.
The YSC chief lamented the fact that in
spite of repeated requests and submissions to the state government,
nothing concrete had materialized yet.
"We have submitted memorandums to the
state government and even personally to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee
on several occasions. But we have not got any assurance or response till
now. With no alternative before us, we have been forced to take the
decision to boycott the elections," said Limbu.
The association president maintained
that the association had submitted a memorandum with a demand for
forming a development board to the chief minister during her visit to
Kurseong on October 23 last year.
It is to be noted that the state
government issued a notice to the Tamang Youth Association (TYA) on
March 1 apprising the association of its approval for setting up a
Tamang Development and Cultural Board.
However, confusion has cropped up among
other seekers of similar development boards on the state government's
letter in para-3, which reads: "…this board will also carry out the
above activities in respect of other communities as may be notified from
time to time".
Apart from demanding a development
council, the Limbu community also wants the Limbu language to be taught
across primary school in the hills. The YSC contends a development board
would help in preserving and promoting the language, culture, tradition
and economic progress of Limbus settled in the country. (EOIC)
The Kalimpong unit of the Gorkha National Liberation Front today revived
its student wing, the Gorkha National Students’ Front, during a meeting
at the Shyamadevi Bhawan in Thakurvari. Considered an important wing of
the GNLF, the GNSF had maintained a stony silence ever since the rise
of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. The sub-division committee of the GNSF
has Vivek Rasaily as its president, Upendra Sharma as vice-president,
Alka Tamang as secretary, Manjil Chettri as assistant secretary, Samir
Ali as treasurer and Roshan Rai as publicity secretary along with 11
The Gorkha Rashtriya Congress has
intensified its campaign for the Lok Sabha elections across the
Darjeeling hills. On Sunday, GRS supporters distributed leaflets in
Kurseong promoting the party’s sole election agenda of a
GRC president Nima Lama, party candidate
for the Darjeeling seat, said it has been several decades since the
people of the hills have raised the demand for statehood. However, the
state government has always managed to snub such demands by offering
autonomous setups, which are totally unacceptable alternatives, he said.
Talking to reporters here on Sunday, the
GRC president said, “Now the people have to knock at the right doors
and also make up their minds to vote for GRC to achieve a
Lama said the GRC has started its
election campaigning by issuing leaflets that appeal for votes in
support of a Sikkim-Darjeeling merger. He also said the party has urged
all communities of the hills to pursue their demand for statehood
through the GRC and free themselves from the divisive policies of the
state government. The leaflet highlights a number of points related to
the party’s stand about Darjeeling being an integral part of Sikkim and
never a part of Bengal, added Lama.
The GRC chief also claimed the Centre is
in no mood to entertain the demand for a separate state, but it has
supported the GRC’s idea of a Sikkim-Darjeeling merger and also sought
public feedback on the issue. Lama also insisted the GRC’s proposal is
being supported by leaders at the Centre as it seeks unification and not
Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh national
president Dr. Enos Das Pradhan today announced the organisation’s
decision to support Dr. Mahendra P Lama in the general election in
keeping with the BGP’s strategy of supporting a local candidate.
He said, “Lama is the only capable
candidate from the hills. He is not a puppet in the hands of the state
and central governments at least and we have decided to support his
Talking to reporters today, Pradhan said
the BGP’s policy determination committee recently met in Siliguri and
held extensive discussions on the upcoming polls following which the
leadership officially approved support to Dr. Lama.
The BGP chief also said, “Gorkhaland is
not impossible. We need to unite and work together. We will form a
platform in the national level after the elections to take the demand
ahead,” while adding the GTA and even the Sixth Schedule status will
never fulfill the long-sought aspiration of the Gorkhas.
Talking about the planned BGP national
level platform, Pradhan said Sukman Moktan will be appointed its
convener. Meanwhile, there has been a reshuffle in the policy
determination committee and Bhupendra Adhikari has replaced Prabhakar
Dewan as its general secretary, while R Moktan has become the national
Further, Pradhan condemned purported
attempts by certain forces to disintegrate the BGP and said members have
also discussed ways to fight such divisive forces.
The BGP president also did not spare
dramatist CK Shrestha and accused him of trying to divert the people’s
attention by proposing a Gorkha National Satellite Council.
He claimed, “The Gorkha National
Satellite Council is but a brainchild of the central government to
suppress the Gorkhaland agitation. He (Shrestha) has been making false
claims that the North-East people are supporting such a council.”(EOIC)