Posters in Harka Bahadur name supporting Kalimpong district

Posters in Harka Bahadur name supporting Kalimpong district
The Gorkha Jamukti Morcha today called for the upgrade of Kalimpong subdivision to a district, a demand that is perceived to deprive MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri of an agenda which could help him win the hearts of a large section of people.
Today, posters were plastered at Damber Chowk in Kalimpong by the "janata" supporting local MLA Chhetri's demand for the district and asking him to pursue the matter fearlessly.
Reacting to the posters, Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the Morcha, today said in Darjeeling: "The demand to upgrade Kalimpong subdivision to a district was first raised by the Morcha during a meeting called by Mamata Banerjee on August 19, 2012, to discuss the creation of Alipurduar district. I was present at the meeting, along with other Morcha leaders like Jyoti Kumar Rai. It is true that Harka Bahadur Chhetri was also present at the meeting."
Even though the Morcha had in principle supported the demand in 2012, it was Chhetri who pursed the matter vigorously. Chhetri had raised the issue three times in the Bengal Assembly and he now made it his main agenda after resigning from the Morcha. Other than raising the demand at the meeting, the party had not spoken much on the issue.
Today, Giri vigorously tried to portray the demand for the Kalimpong district as that of the Morcha and not of Chhetri in an apparent move to make Chhetri bereft of any issues. "If Chhetri persists with his demand and the Mamata government forms the new district, he will definitely score brownie points with the local people. The Morcha wants to pre-empt such a situation and show the public that the party is also steadfast in its demand," said a political observer.
Giri said the Morcha had other demands also. "Apart from the upgrade of Kalimpong subdivision to a district, there are other demands like the reorganising of various blocks. We have demanded that 20-21 blocks be carved out of the current eight blocks and the government consider converting blocks like Mirik into subdivisions," said Giri.
The Morcha had earlier said the eight hill blocks should be reorganised and there should be total 18 blocks. Morcha leadership has once again raked the issue of reorganising and upgrading the blocks in a move to touch upon a larger section of the hill population and not just those in the Kalimpong subdivision.
Stressing the matter, Giri said: "In fact, in the memorandum of agreement (for the GTA), the issue has been clearly highlighted in Section 24."
Section 24 of the MoA states: "The Government of West Bengal will initiate action to re-organise/re-constitute the territorial jurisdictions of sub-divisions and blocks."
Giri said: "We will definitely raise the issue and write to the government."
Told about the Morcha's stand, Chhetri said over the phone from Calcutta: "I have no problems if they are raising the issue. I left the Morcha not on the district issue but for not letting me work properly and the lack of democracy in the party."
Chhetri added: "I know how the party functions. They should not confine their demand to two slogans and two public meetings. As a party, they should lead and take the issue to a logical conclusion. They are the ones who have severed ties with the state government and the issue (upgrade of the Kalimpong subdivision) falls within the state's jurisdiction."
The Morcha is planning a grand welcome for Rohit Sharma, who resigned as the MLA, during his return to Kalimpong tomorrow.(TT)

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