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Morcha writes letter to CM demanding five districts

Roshan Giri Morcha general secretary
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha today wrote to the chief minister, demanding that five new districts, including Kalimpong, be carved out of the existing Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar districts.

The letter by Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri to Mamata Banerjee is seen as a move by the party to overshadow MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri's persistent pitch for the upgrade of the Kalimpong subdivision into a district.

Apart from Kalimpong, the other four districts sought by the Morcha are Kurseong, another one comprising the Terai part of Siliguri and Mirik and two more districts from the Dooars. Other than Kalimpong, the Morcha hadn't demanded the creation of the four other districts before.

The demand for the five districts, according to Morcha sources, is an attempt to galvanise support for the party across the hills and the Dooars.

In the letter to Mamata, who is currently in Bhutan, Giri has said: "I would like to bring to your notice that when the all party meeting took place on 19th August 2011 regarding the change of name of West Bengal to Paschim Banga and bifurcation of Jalpaiguri, Paschim Mednipur, Bardhaman and North 24 Parganas, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had demanded the creation of Kalimpong district."

The Morcha has stressed the time of its demand for Kalimpong district in the letter to show that it has always been on the agenda of the party.

Kalimpong MLA Chhetri has been spearheading the district demand ever since he rebelled against the Morcha's directive to resign from the Assembly and instead quit the party on September 18.

In the letter, Giri said: "During the all-party meeting GJM had demanded that Kalimpong sub-division should be made as a district as Kalimpong is a geographically bigger area and was far from the district headquarter (Darjeeling)."

Demanding more districts, Giri said: "The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha would also demand a separate district of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Terai part of Siliguri and Mirik, and creation of two more districts from the Dooars region. ... the GJM would appeal to the government for redrawing the Darjeeling district map and Dooars region so that more central funds for development can be accessed by these proposed districts."

Asked about the Morcha's demand for four more districts, Giri said: "If more districts are created, it would definitely help the demand of Gorkhaland."

He, however, refused to say if the Morcha was chalking out any programmes for the creation of new districts.

Sources in the Morcha said the party was likely to further up its ante over the district issue in the coming days.

Observers said the Morcha's letter was an attempt by the party to snatch the Kalimpong district agenda from Chhetri. "Given the recent developments, there is a possibility of the government announcing the Kalimpong district and it seems the Morcha is not ready to give Chhetri all the credit," said an observer.

Chhetri had told The Telegraph that he would campaign for the creation of Kalimpong district as he had "phenomenal support" from the people of the hills and parties.

In the past few days, Chhetri has received support from anti-Morcha hill organisations like the ABGL, CPRM and Gorkhaland Rajya Nirman Morcha (GRNM) on the Kalimpong district demand.

Chhetri who had said he was ready to join hands with anyone for Kalimpong's benefit could not be contacted.(TT)

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