Binay invited to business summit, GTA chief walks through Gurung’s backyard and receives memoranda

A Tukvar resident welcomes Binay Tamang
Darjeeling: The chairman of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration has been invited to attend the Bengal Global Business Summit, the first such gesture for a Darjeeling leader in an indication that the state government is trying to attract investors to the hills, too.
"I, along with GTA vice-chairman Anit Thapa and GTA's principal secretary and other officials, have been invited to attend the business meet. This is a great opportunity for us to promote the hills. We have the potential to attract investors. We are also planning to hold investors' meet in Darjeeling in February," Tamang, who is the chairman of the board of administrators appointed by the Bengal government to run the GTA, said on Sunday.
Even though the Mamata Banerjee government has been organising business meets for several years, this is the first time that a head of an autonomous set-up in the hills is being invited to address the gathering of investors.
Tamang revealed the invitation to the media during his trip to the Singamari-Tukvar area, which has been the stronghold of Bimal Gurung, who heads the rival faction in the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, for nearly 20 years. He started the journey after sipping a cup of tea from a stall that is now housed in the closed office of the Morcha.
"I haven't had tea here for a long time," Tamang said sipping tea standing on the Lebong Cart Road around 9.30am.
The Morcha's central committee office has been sealed by the Darjeeling district administration on the ground that it was built on encroached land. The tea stall and three other business establishments have, however, been allowed to function from the building.
After a steaming cup of tea, Tamang started his drive downhill; entering an area he had once frequented but not stepped in since May last year.
People welcomed the Morcha leader at various places and he also stopped in front of Bimal Gurung's main office at Patlebas. Tamang met residents of Patlebas, where three houses had been burnt down during the recent statehood agitation.

A few minutes before, Tamang had passed Gurung's residence. The main gate to Gurung's residence was locked, tied with the head of a goat, with some khadas, rice mixed with vermilion and flower petals and two puppets --- which all raised an eerie feeling.
People had lined up at more than a dozen places with welcome gates made of plants and other materials and musical instruments. They also submitted memorandum with various demands to Tamang.
Welcoming Tamang, Biren Rai, a Morcha leader from Tukvar second division, said: "We had been part of various programmes since 2007 but not much development has taken place here. We do not know why."
In Singla, the crowd was heavy at many spots. A woman sought medical assistance to treat her fractured leg, while a resident of Shanti busty took Tamang to a spot requesting him to build a bridge that would connect Badamtam with the area.
Tamang also visited the house of Pramil Subba, whose house had been gutted in the agitation.
Tamang took a circuitous route, walking at many places, to reach Jamuni passing through Singla, Karmatar and Goke.
"I am not here to prove anything. There is a precedent in the hills that once there is a change of guard, the area being represented by another person is neglected. I do not want this to happen," said Tamang, who stressed that he was visiting different GTA constituencies every Saturday and Sunday.
"I had sanctioned a road project and drinking water scheme for Singla a few days back. Around Rs 50 crore has already been invested in Jamuni and you can see work is still continuing. I will not victimise this area," said Tamang.
Gurung, as the GTA chief executive, had launched a major tourism project at Jamuni.
Observers believe Tamang's visit is expected to send a strong message across the hills, as this constituency was known to be Gurung's den.

The Telegraph

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