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In Darjeeling Mamata wants GJM, GTA, State govt to work togather

In Darjeeling Mamata wants GJM, GTA, State govt to work togather
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today chose to shed her ‘confrontational’ stance while speaking at a public function in Chowrastha and announced a number of people-oriented schemes even as she urged the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration to work in tandem with her government.
The weather in the morning tried to play spoilsport with spells of light to heavy showers threatening to disrupt the function. However, as the chief minister made her way up to the stage, the rain stopped and the clouds cleared prompting out of her what has now become clichéd: “It always rains when I come to Darjeeling for a programme. But the Kanchenjunga soon becomes visible and starts smiling just like my brother and sisters of the hills”.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders and GTA sabhasads chose to stay away from the function as they had a good excuse: the day happened to be party president Bimal Gurung’s 50th birthday. Banerjee apparently deemed it prudent not to make their absence an issue and wished the GJM president instead.
 “We had invited everyone. I came to know today is Bimal-ji’s birthday and everyone is busy there, Anyway, I have sent him a letter wishing him the very best,” she said.
Speaking of more pressing matters, the chief minister urged the GTA to work for the benefit of the people without any political bias.
“One can practice politics because ours is a democracy, but it should not obstruct development work. Ninety percent of the departments demanded by the GTA have been transferred. It should now do its work and the state government will play its part wherever needed,” said Banerjee.
She called out to the people of the hills and plains to foster a spirit of brotherhood while ensuring the “past mistake” (Banga bhanga hobe na) does not get repeated.
 “Darjeeling was neglected and no one came here. But I make it a point to visit the hills frequently. I don’t work for votes but for the people’s love, and come here to strengthen our relation and I will continue to do so in future,” she said to cheers from a huge crowd gathered at the popular promenade.
Pursuing further her soft approach of working hand-in-hand with the GTA, the chief minister said she would convene a development review meeting Friday to take stock of the present situation.
 “I will invite GTA and municipality members for a meeting tomorrow to review the ongoing and future development work in the hills,” said Banerjee.
She also used the occasion to hand over Rs1 lakh and a government job to the widow of Dawa Wangchuk, a local guide who has been missing since the last couple of months at Mt Kanchenjunga. Further, Banerjee also sanctioned Rs20 crore for the ‘Ronglee Housing Scheme’ for the Lepcha community for the construction of 1,000 houses.
 “I care for the Sherpas. They risk their lives for others and are hardworking people. The state government will provide a job to Wangchuk’s wife. The Lepcha Development Board has done a good job by constructing 998 houses and I duly announce a 1,000 more of such houses will be constructed,” said the chief minister. Without any specific reference, she added workers of closed tea gardens would be paid a monthly salary of Rs1,500 along with employment under the 100-days work and rice and wheat at heavily subsidised rates.
The chief minister also laid the foundation stone for a Rs225-crore safari park that will come up near Sukna and commissioned the Balasun drinking water project, besides officially announcing the formation of the Tamang Development and Cultural Board by naming its office bearers. She also claimed of having communicated with the Centre of including 11 communities of the hills under the Scheduled Tribe list and of setting up a university here.
Meanwhile, GJM chief Bimal Gurung remarked the chief minister’s words of wanting to work together with the GTA is a positive sign.
 “She has sent me a letter wishing me along with a bouquet of flowers and sweets. I will send GTA sabhasads and MLAs to attend tomorrow’s review meeting,” he said.
Banerjee will put up for the night at the Richmond Hill government guest house and leave for Siliguri Friday morning to meet party leaders before flying back to Kolkata the following day.(EOIC)

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