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Harka Bahadur Chhetri hints new inclusive and secular party launch

Harka Bahadur Chhetri
Kalimpong MLA Harka Bahadur Chhetri today indicated that he would float a new "inclusive" and "secular" party that would not be confined to any geographical boundary before the end of the year.
Chhetri said he would be sitting with his colleagues on the Kalimpong District Demand Committee and other advisers in the next few days and hopefully, be in a position to offer a New Year gift to the people of the hills in the shape of a new party.
"We got Kalimpong as Christmas gift, and in order to make proper use of this Christmas gift, we may be in a position to announce a New Year gift," he said to wild cheers from the gathering at a programme organised by the district committee at the Mela Ground here to celebrate the government's decision to carve out Kalimpong district.
Mamata Banerjee had announced in Calcutta on Friday that Kalimpong would be made a new district.
Chhetri said the new party would be inclusive and would not confine itself to a geographical boundary. "The party will be inclusive and secular. Even its name will not bear the name of any one community or communities. It will not be restricted by region either."
Chhetri said he could sense excitement among the people and time had come to seize the moment and herald a new beginning. "Today, I want to appeal to the people in Kurseong and Darjeeling, and my friends all over, to do something new in this new atmosphere... Come forward in this new atmosphere to herald a new dawn," he said.
Without naming Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, Chhetri urged the educated section not to keep association with uneducated leadership. "I want to tell the educated friends what the value of your education will be if you obey everything a leader who knows nothing tells you. There is still time to make a course correction."
Seated on the dais were Darjeeling-Dooars United Development Foundation president Mahendra P. Lama, former Morcha leaders Amar Lama and Anmole Prasad. Mahendra Lama had contested the last parliamentary elections against the Morcha-supported BJP leader S.S. Ahluwalia.
Amar Lama and Prasad had quit the Morcha following the killing of Akhil Bharatiya Gorkha League president Madan Tamang on May 21, 2010. Lama is the younger brother of Tamang.
Mahendra P. Lama congratulated Chhetri and the people of Kalimpong on the upgrade of the subdivision to a district.
"District is a big achievement. Kalimpong has tremendous potential. We can make the district number one not only in Bengal but in the entire country," he said.
Earlier in the day, upon his arrival in Siliguri from Calcutta, Chhetri scoffed at the Morcha leadership for resorting to confrontational politics with the state government and for failing to harness the provisions and powers conferred on the GTA.
He also ruled out the possibility of joining Trinamul
"The entire credit for making Kalimpong a separate district goes to Mamata Banerjee. She had never ever told me to join Trinamul. If she had put a condition that the state would announce Kalimpong a district only if I joined Trinamul, I would have accepted it in the interest of Kalimpong residents. But no such offer had come," the MLA told journalists in Siliguri.
Chhetri said he couldn't say now if he would contest the next Assembly polls.
During his drive up from Siliguri, people stopped his vehicle at various points on NH10 and offered him khadas.
They shouted slogans hailing the formation of Kalimpong district and in praise of Chhetri. In Kalimpong, he was given a rousing reception by people.(TT)

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