GNLF chief rally after seven years in Darjeeling

Mann Ghisingh
Darjeeling: The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) has lined up its first rally in seven years to be addressed by its chief, indicating the party's growing confidence about being a major force in the hills marked by single-party dominance for decades.
"We have decided to hold a public meeting in Darjeeling on January 28. Mann Ghisingh, our party president, will be addressing a rally for the first time in Darjeeling," GNLF spokesperson Neeraj Zimba said.
Subash Ghisingh, who had founded the party in 1980, had last addressed a gathering in Darjeeling in 2011. "That was the last time out party's president had addressed a public meeting in Darjeeling," said Zimba.
Subash died in 2015 and son Mann was then appointed GNLF president.

Observers believe the GNLF's Mann its main speaker in Darjeeling after so many years is significant. "During the 104-day statehood strike, a large number of Trinamul supporters joined the GNLF. Since then, the party has stepped up its political activities across the hills. The latest announcement is indicative of the party's growing confidence," said an observer.
The GNLF was the dominant force in the hills for 21 years from 1986 to 2007. However, with the rise of Bimal Gurung, who founded the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, the GNLF lost its control over hill politics.
From 2007 to 2011, when the Gorkhaland agitation was spearheaded by Gurung, Subash moved out of the hills and stayed in Siliguri and Jalpaiguri. Even after his return in 2014, Subash refrained from any political activities.
Of late, the GNLF has increased its political activities, especially after Gurung went into hiding. The GNLF supported Trinamul in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and recently, Mann and party general secretary hendra Chhetri have been appointed chairn and vice-chairn of Hill Area Development Committee by the state government.
Zimba said: "We had not asked for the committee but the government has appointed our leaders. We have accepted the committee in principle but do not want to comment further on this as we are yet to receive any further notification on the power and functions of the committee."
The GNLF, floated to dend a separate Gorkhaland, now wants the hills to be included within the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The schedule provides for greater autonomy to designated areas.
The GNLF the inclusion of the hills in the schedule would facilitate Gorkhaland. "At the moment, we want a credible political solution for the hills," said Zimba.

The Telegraph

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