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Full-fledged campaign mode for municipal election in Darjeeling hills

Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung
As matters reach their business end, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Trinamool Congress are going all out to woo voters, with candidates and senior party leaders entering into full-fledged campaign mode for the May 14 municipal election in the hills.
The local body election will be a litmus test for the two parties' prospects for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration and panchayat elections later this year.
With an eye to make major dents into the GJM vote bank, the TMC is leaving no stone unturned and has invited senior party leaders from Kolkata to campaign. Aroop Biswas, observer for the hills and the state PWD minister, has been entrusted to oversee the party’s poll preparations in Darjeeling, while NBDD minister Rabindranath Ghosh will be stationed in Kurseong, Sourav Chakraborty in Mirik and Mohan Sharma in Kalimpong.
Star campaigners to be in the hills to support the party’s candidates include TMC youth front president Avisekh Banerjee and education minister Partha Chatterjee. The TMC has fielded candidates from all the 84 wards of the four hill municipalities and also allied with the Gorkha National Liberation Front to counter the GJM might.
The TMC is expecting the people to vote them to power in the civic bodies, the confidence stemming from the fact that chief minister Mamata Banerjee has formed 15 development boards in the hills since 2013.
Further, the formation of Kalimpong district and Mirik sub-division, just ahead of the election, will surely be of major help to the TMC, feel political analysts in the hills. In fact, such is the urgency within the TMC camp that it has fielded senior hill party leaders as candidates.
“Our issue and agenda for the municipal election is good and clean governance. The GJM has failed to work for the people. It is heaped in corruption. We want to end this and usher development in the region,” said N.B. Khawas, the hill TMC working president, who is contesting from ward 20 of Darjeeling municipality.
The GJM, meantime, has made the statehood demand its poll agenda and is asserting it would be a fight for Gorkhaland with the Bengal government. Senior leaders of the party as also candidates are reaching out to voters highlighting the alleged atrocities of the state government and step-motherly treatment being meted out to the hill communities. The GJM is also plagued with internal dissent as some members have chosen to contest the election as independent candidates.
GJM president Bimal Gurung has threatened to expel such party workers and leaders and issued them a directive not to use the party flag during campaigning. (EOIC)

Harka accused TMC trying to break JAP, Aroop Biswas denied

Harka Bahdur Chhetri, Aroop Biswas
The Jana Andolan Party president, Harka Bahdur Chhetri, today accused the Trinamul Congress of trying to break his organisation in order to thwart JAP from emerging as a strong regional force and also because of its refusal to align with any party in the municipality elections.
State minister and Trinamul leader Aroop Biswas, however, denied the allegations and said despite repeated proposals for an alliance from their side to the JAP, the hill party did not respond to the call.
Chhetri, who was at one time considered to be close to Trinamul chief and chief minister Mamata Banerjee, said Trinamul ministers were frequently visiting Kalimpong with the sole purpose of breaking the JAP.

"Trinamul ministers keep frequenting Kalimpong only to break the JAP. People must remain vigilant...The state never wants any regional party to become strong, and the JAP is getting strong. That is why the ministers keep frequenting Kalimpong to break the JAP," he told his supporters at a programme organised to introduce the 23 candidates of the party who will contest civic polls in Kalimpong. The event was held at the Town Hall.
Elections at Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Kurseong and Mirik municipalities will be held on May 14.#The JAP president said both Trinamul and the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha were focused on defeating his party in Kalimpong.
"There is a grand alliance at work against the JAP. There is Morcha on one side and Trinamul on the other. The JAP has to struggle on its own in such a difficult situation," he said.
The JAP has been saying from the very beginning that it will go alone in the civic polls, despite frequent speculations of its possible alliance with Trinamul and other parties.
"We have at least made Kalimpong the centre point of state politics. Without us, neither Bimal Gurung nor Aroop Biswas would have come to Kalimpong. They have had to come because we were not up for sale...We have very clearly maintained that we cannot have an alliance with either Trinamul or the Morcha because our ideology and principles do not match," Chhetri asserted.
While Gurung had camped in Kalimpong for close to two months in an effort to galvanise his supporters to ensure the Morcha's victory in the municipal elections, Biswas has been a regular visitor to Kalimpong for Trinamul programmes.
Chhetri also cautioned people against falling prey to false talks about Kalimpong being denied funds by both the GTA and the state government in the event of his party's victory.
"We condemn such talks. A government is of the entire people. We will get funds due to us from whatever source," he said.
In Siliguri, minister Biswas brushed aside Chhetri's allegations and criticised the JAP leadership for not joining hands with Trinamul.
"We wanted to form an alliance with the JAP like we have allied with the GNLF. The basic thought is to fight in a united manner against the Morcha that has failed to carry out development in both the towns and villages across the hills. The party was at the helm of all the four municipalities but did nothing for people. Instead, the leaders and elected representatives indulged in corruption. The JAP leaders however, did not respond," Biswas, who is also the party's observer for Darjeeling district, said.(TT)

Morcha dummy candidate refused to withdraw nomination

Bimal Gurung in tension
The dummy candidate of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha in ward 17 of Darjeeling refused to withdraw his nomination at the last moment, leaving the party dumbfound.
The time for the withdrawal of the nominations for the municipal polls ended at 3pm yesterday, but Krishna Barmay Sarki didn't opt out of the fray.
Barmay had aspired for a Morcha ticket, along with two other party leaders from the same ward.
Unable to solve the differences, Morcha president Bimal Gurung had fielded Ram Jung Golay, a resident of ward 16, in ward 17. after problems in their wardIt is not good for the party that we have two candidates contesting from the same ward."Dummy candidates are always the most trusted party man.
"Everyone wanted a candidate from their own ward and since I had filed my nominations as a dummy candidate, I decided not to withdraw. I seek forgiveness from Bimal Gurung, too, but I feel I was misunderstood. If I had not contested, the party would have lost this ward. I am with the Morcha and I have always come forward for Gorkhaland," said Barmay.(TT)

गोजमुमो लाब्दा शाखाको अनुमोदन सभा

Gorkha Janmukti Morcha meeting in Labdah Division
बर्तमान दार्जीलिंग पहाडभरि नै पार्टी अदलबदल गर्ने क्रममा झण्डाको राजनीति चलिरहेको समय गोर्खा जनमुक्ति मोर्चा लाब्दा शाखालाई सशक्तिकरण गर्नहेतु गत ८ अप्रेलको दिन पार्टीको पुरानो शाखा अनि युनियन विघटन गरि नयाँ पदाधिकारी चयन गरिएको थियो भने आज यसै नवगठित शाखा अनि युनियनलाई अनुमोदन गर्नार्थ मङपु लाब्दा समष्टि सभासद रतन कुमार थापाको उपस्थितिमा एउटा सभा बस्यो | गोजमुमो लाब्दा शाखा सभापति भुपाल मोक्तानको अध्यक्षतामा सम्पन्न कार्यक्रमलाई शाखा सचिव दिपेन योन्जनले संचालन गरेका थिए जसमा युनियन मङपु जोन सभापति सुरेन राईले स्वागत सम्भाषण राखेका थिए | सभामा नव गठित पार्टी अनि युनियनको अनुमोदन प्रस्ताव राख्दै यसलाई सर्व सम्मति मार्फत अनुमोदन भएको घोषणा भयो | पुर्वघोषित कार्यक्रम अनुसार आजकै दिन पार्टीको नयाँ युवा मोर्चा अनि नारी मोर्चा पदाधिकारीहरु पनि चयन गरिने योजना रहेपनि केही कारणवश सो कार्य नगरिएको साथै केही दिन भित्रमा गठन गर्ने जानकारी प्राप्त छ | अनुमोदन सभालाई नारी मोर्चा मङपु समष्टि सचिवा सुर्यमणि राई, मङपु युवा मोर्चा सचिव विज्ञेन मिश्र, समष्टि सभापति उर्गेन शेर्पा, युवा मोर्चा अध्यक्ष मङपु जोन बिकाश गुरुङ, कानुनी सल्लाहकार राम पोख्रेल आदिले सम्बोधन गर्दै मोर्चाको विगतका दिनहरु बारे चर्चा साथै भावी कार्यक्रमहरुको निम्ति एककृत भइ बस्नु पर्ने साथै गोर्खाल्याण्डको मागलाई दबाउन बङ्गाल सरकारले रचेको षड्यन्त्रदेखि बाँचेर निर्भिक भइ केवल गोर्खाल्याण्डकै निम्ति समर्पित हुने अनि बर्तमानको झण्डा फेर्ने हैंजामा नफस्ने सुझाव राखे | यही सभामा विगतको सभामा युनियनको छोडिएको पदहरुमा पनि पदाधिकारी नियुक्ति गरियो जसमा युनियन उपसभापति विभोर तामांग, सहसचिव राजीब राई, लेखापरिक्षक विदेन प्रधान चयन गरिएको छ ||

गरीब निमुखाहरुले अझै पनि बोर्डबाट घर पाएको छैन

Poor villager house in labdah busty
राज्यकी मुख्यमन्त्री ममता ब्यनार्जीले दार्जीलिंग पहाडका सम्पूर्ण जातिहरुको सर्वाङगिन बिकाश गर्ने उदेश्यले विगतका वर्षहरुमा विभिन्न जात गोष्ठीहरुको निम्ति भकाभक बिकाश बोर्ड गठन गर्दै यसकै माध्यमबाट गरिबी रेखा मुनिका जनताहरुको घर निर्माण गर्ने कार्य भयो | तैपनि हिजआज ती बोर्डका कतिपय गरीब जनताहरु जसलाई घर निर्माण गरिदिन आवश्यक हुँदा हुँदै पनि केवल चंखो बाठो जसले बोर्डका प्रतिनिधिहरुसित सजिलो सम्पर्क बनाउन सक्छ, जसलाई घर निर्माण गरिदिन आवश्यक छैन उनीहरुले मात्र घर पाएको जनगुनासोहरु सुन्नमा आएको छ | गाउँ बस्तीतिर गरीब जनताहरु आजपनि आँधी हुरी र झरीसित संघर्ष गर्दै मक्किएको, कुहेको घरमा बस्न बाध्य भएको देख्नमा आइरहेको छ | यसै शिलशिलामा मङपुको लाब्दा बस्तिका ज्यादातर जनताहरुको पनि यस्तै गुनासो सुन्नमा आएको छ | गत फरवरीमा कालेबुंगको टाउन हलमा भएको तामांग रीमठीम विषयमा तामांग कल्चर प्रोग्राम भएको समय लाब्दा बस्ति शाखाका अखिल भारतीय तामांग बौद्ध संघको एक टोलीले तामांग बोर्ड चियरमेन संजय मोक्तानसंग भेट गर्दै सम्पूर्ण लाब्दा बस्तिको सम्पूर्ण तामांग समुदाय जो गरिबी रेखा मुनिका छन् उनीहरुको जानकारी गराइएको थियो | जसको निम्ति चेयरमेन मोक्तानले चाडै ब्लकको चेयरमेन, सेक्रेटरी साथमा लिएर सबै छानबीन गरिदिने बचन दिएका थिए भने त्यो छानबीन कार्य धरि आजसम्म नभएको यहाँका जनताको गुनासो छ | लाब्दा बस्तिमा केवल एकैजना तामांग देवराज मोक्तानले घर पायो तर त्यसको निम्ति सामानहरु पनि अपुग साथै खर्च पनि केवल दस हजार मात्र पाएको गुनासो लाब्दा बस्ति अल बुद्धिष्ट गुम्बा कमिटि सभापति महाबीर पाख्रीनले गरेको छ | लाब्दा बस्तिमा प्राय: ५५ घर तामांग छ जसमा ४० घर भन्दा अधिक गरिबी रेखा मुनिका छन्, जसको घर कुहेर, भत्केर जीर्ण अवस्थामा रहेको छ र उनीहरुको निम्ति निस्वार्थ घर बनाईदिन नितान्त आवश्यक छ | आय श्रोतको कुनै दह्रिलो माध्यम नभएको कारण उनीहरु दिनको एक छाक जुटाउन सम्म गाह्रो पर्छ भने घर बनाउने कुनै कुरो छैन | यसैले यदि बिकाश बोर्डले यसभित्रका सदस्य तथा सन्तानहरुको बिकाश गर्छ भने यस्ता गरीब जनताको घर निर्माण गरिदिएको हुनुपर्छ भन्ने उनको भनाइ छ | प्रसंगमा चारैतिर बर्तमानमा बोर्डको माध्यबाट पुगिसरी परिवारहरुको निम्ति घर निर्माण गर्ने कार्य चलिरहेको छ भने गाउँ बस्तिका यस्ता निमुखा जनताहरु संधै गरीबको गरीब नै अनि अवहेलित साथै बोर्डका सहुलियतहरु पाउन देखि बन्चित भएर बसेको देखिएको छ | यस्तो अवस्थामा सबै बोर्डका पदाधिकारीहरुले स्थलगत भ्रमण गर्दै सठीक निरीक्षण गरेर मात्र घर निर्माण गरिदिनुपर्ने समय देखा परेको छ जसले गर्दा गाउँ बस्तिका गरीब निमुखा जनताले पनि बोर्डको सहुलियत प्राप्त गर्दै केही हदसम्म राहत अनुभव गर्न सक्षम होस् ||

Gorkhaland versus Bengal battle

Gorkhaland versus Bengal battle
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is pitching the coming hill municipal elections as a "Gorkhaland versus Bengal" battle.
The Morcha has already sent to print posters which read: "Gorkhaland versus Bengal".
A senior Morcha leader said: "This is a crucial election. Opposition parties might have many things to say but the fact is that if they, especially the Trinamul Congress, win the election, we believe a wrong message might be conveyed to the Centre. That is why we want to put it before the public that even this election, which is at the local level, is a Gorkhaland versus Bengal battle."
Gorkhaland has always been the Morcha's theme in previous elections but never before had the party pitched a direct battle on the lines it has thought for the coming polls.

One of the posters the Morcha has sent to print roughly translates: "Gorkhaland versus Bengal, to uproot Bengal's hegemony and to secure our future, let us all vote for the GJM candidate."
The poster is written in Nepali.
The Morcha leader said: "Our point will be that every vote for Trinamul will be for Bengal."
Morcha sources said its all 32 candidates in Darjeeling were today asked to be dressed in traditional attire for a photo shoot that could be used in the campaign posters.
The "Gorkhaland versus Bengal" slogan might sound attractive in the three hill municipalities of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong.
In Mirik, Trinamul has an advantage because of Mamata Banerjee's announcement of a survey to grant land rights to its residents.(TT)

150m long cross border tunnel found in Chopra

Cross-border tunnel found in Chopra north dinajpur
150m long tunnel that begins in India and seems to extend beyond the Bangladesh border was detected at Fatehpur in Chopra block of North Dinajpur today with suspicion being pointed to infiltrators and smugglers.
North Dinajpur district police said some local people had spotted the tunnel's opening, measuring 4X2 feet, near a tea plantation on the Indian side and informed the personnel of the 149 battalion of the BSF posted in the area.
"BSF officers have visited the spot and they suspect that the tunnel was dug for infiltration and smuggling. They have started an investigation," a senior police officer said.

Two small holes, measuring around 18X12 inches, have been found near the opening of the tunnel that is 100m long on the Indian side.
"Preliminary probe has revealed that the tunnel was probably dug from the other side of the border. The other end of the tunnel, it seems, is around 50m beyond the border fence. It is obvious that the tunnel passes under the fence," a source said.
The tunnel is around 1.2km from Arugach, the nearest Indian village. Puratan Atwari, the closest Bangladesh village, is around 1.5km from the site.
Officials of intelligence agencies said that the tunnel was located in Chopra block made them suspect that it was dug for infiltration.
"In Chopra block, the width of India comes down to just a few kilometres and falls in the chicken's neck area of the country. Nepal and Bangladesh are on either side of the area. We suspect that the tunnel was built for infiltration of criminal elements who want to cross over to other countries like Nepal," an intelligence official said.
He also pointed out that the Bengal-Bihar border was close to the block and infiltrators could easily sneak into the neighbouring state.
"The tunnel with an opening of 4X2 feet size is unlikely to be used for smuggling of contraband alone. It is quite large and if this is the average dimension throughout the tunnel, it is obvious that it was dug for infiltrators and some local people are involved in it," the official added.
Amit Kumar Bharat Rathod, the superintendent of police of North Dinajpur, said: "We have received detailed information from the BSF that also filed a complaint with us. Police have been sent to the spot. A probe has been ordered to find out who dug the tunnel and what their purpose was."(TT)

सिन्कोना बगानको निरीक्षण गर्दै हर्टिकल्चर सचिव नन्दिनी चक्रवती मङपुमा

Nandini Chakrabarty, Secretary, Food Processing Industries and Horticulture west Bengal in Mungpoo
बङ्गाल सरकार फुड प्रोसेसिङ इन्ड्सट्री अफ हर्टिकल्चर डिपार्टमेन्टको सचिव नन्दिनी चक्रवतीले मंगलबार सिन्कोना मुख्यालय मङपु निरीक्षण गरेको छ | उनको यस निरीक्षणपछि बर्तमान अवस्थाले जन्माएको सिन्कोना बगान भित्रको निराशालाई सरकारी पक्षबाट निकास दिने संकेत देखा परेको छ | पश्चिम बङ्गाल सरकार अथवा मुख्यमन्त्रीको निर्देशमा सिन्कोना निर्देशालयमा निरीक्षण गर्न आइपुगेकी हर्टिकल्चर सचिव नन्दिनी चक्रवतीले सिन्कोनामा उत्पादित क्षेत्र सहित सिन्कोना कारखाना, रबिन्द्र स्मृति भवन आदिको जानकारी लिइन | सिन्कोना निर्देशक डा० सामुयल राई लगायत सिन्कोना व्यवस्थापक जे सादा, सिन्कोना मुख्यालय व्यवस्थापक मदन मुखिया साथै अन्य अधिकारीहरुको सक्रियतामा सिन्कोना कारखाना भित्र पसेर अचल बोइलरहरुको निरीक्षण गरेका हर्टिकल्चर सचिव चक्रवतीले सिन्कोना कारखानालाई वर्ल्ड हेरिटेजमा अन्तरभुक्त हुन योग्यको संवाद गरिन |
यसै अवसरमा सिन्कोनाको अवस्था बुझ्न आधिकारिक भ्रमणमा आइपुगेकी हर्टिकल्चर सचिव चक्रवतीसित तृणमूल कांग्रेस पक्षका कार्यकर्ताहरुले पनि भेट गर्दै सिन्कोनाको विविध समस्या सम्बन्धि बोध गराउंदै एउटा ज्ञापन पत्र चडाएको छ | जुन ज्ञापन पत्रमा सिन्कोनाको सबल व्यवस्थापन अनि अन्य विकाश प्रवाहमा सरकार पक्षबाट सक्रियता अपनाइ दियोस भन्दै बर्तमान सिन्कोना बगानमा ठप्प रहेको ग्रूप डीको नियुक्ति, पदोन्नति, सिन्कोना कारखानाको पुन: गतिशील अवस्था, रिक्त पदहरु जस्तै कुइनोलोजिस्ट, सहायक कुइनोलोजिस्ट, सहव्यवस्थापक, बोटानिष्ट, प्लान्ट प्याथोलोजिष्ट, चिफ केमिष्ट, हर्टिकल्चर ओभरसेयर बहाली गरिनुपर्छ जस्ता महत विषयहरु उधृत गरिएको जानकारी छ | यसको साथै संगठनको पक्षबाट तृणमूल कांग्रेस समुहले विगतमा सरकार पक्षबाट पब्लिक सर्विस कमिशन मार्फत कुइनोलोजिष्ट अनि सहायक कुइनोलोजिष्टको नियुक्ति विषय विज्ञापन गराएकोमा धन्यबाद दिएको छ |
तृणमूल कांग्रेस समुहसित संवादमा हर्टिकल्चर सचिव नन्दिनी चक्रवतीले सिन्कोना उद्योगलाई प्राथमिकता दिनुपर्ने बताइन, यसको साथै सिन्कोना बगानलाई समृद्ध गर्न योजना बनाएर उत्पादित बस्तुहरुको बजार व्यवस्थापन जरुरी रहेको खुलासा गरेकी छिन् | तत्कालको सिन्कोना उद्योगको अवस्थालाई निरीक्षण गरे पश्चात सरकार पक्षबाट सिन्कोना उद्योगलाई बिकाशको दिशामा लाने संकेत देखा परेको छ | हर्टिकल्चर सचिवसितको भेटमा तृणमूल कांग्रेस समुहबाट युनियन जिल्ला कमिटि सभापति किरण ब्लोन, आरआर ब्लक सचिव पवन बल, दार्जीलिंग जिल्ला टीएमसी महिला सचिव रेजिना गुरुङ, युनियन क्षेत्र समिति सभापति संजय थापा आदिको उपस्थिति रहेको थियो ||