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Gorkhaland in Raju Bista Mouth
After keeping quiet throughout the campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls on the popular demand of the Gorkhas for a separate state of Gorkhaland, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for Darjeeling constituency, Raju Bista, said at the end of campaigning for the assembly by-poll on Friday that his party will “bring Gorkhaland”.
Though polling for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha constituency ended on April 18, a by-poll for the assembly constituency (by the same name) will be held on May 19.
Addressing a public meeting at Darjeeling Chowrasta about an hour before campaigning ended at 5 pm on Friday, Lok Sabha candidate Raju Bista said, “We will bring Gorkhaland and these two Gorkhas (referring to himself and Neeraj Zimba, the party’s candidate for the assembly by-election) will also bring Scheduled Tribe status to 11 Gorkha communities which were left out.”
The BJP did not mention Gorkhaland during its entire Lok Sabha campaign. The party’s manifesto also said, “We are committed to work towards finding a permanent political solution to the issue of Darjeeling Hills, Siliguri Terai and Dooars region.”
Gorkhaland envisages a separate state for Gorkhas in the hills of North Bengal and some parts of the foothills as well. For the Gorkhas, it is an aspiration but the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee, as well as other parties from the plains are completely opposed to it.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee has said that she will not consider any proposal for the division of Bengal under any circumstance.
Reacting to Bista’s remark, N B Khawas, the TMC spokesperson for Darjeeling said, “The BJP election manifesto has not mentioned Gorkhaland and Bista cannot bring in the same. When the Centre did not move to create Gorkhaland despite Narendra Modi saying ‘the dream of Gorkhas is my dream during the 2014 election campaign’, how can Bista speak of bringing about Gorkhaland?”
Neeraj Zimba, the BJP candidate for the Darjeeling assembly by-polls, is a leader of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) that led the first phase of the violent struggle for a separate state between 1986 and 1988, in which about 1,200 lives were lost.
The second wave of violence took place in the second half of 2017, when a record 104-day shutdown of the hills took place between June and September. As many as 13 people, of whom 11 were believed to be Gorkhaland supporters, died during this time.
Criticising the BJP Lok Sabha candidate’s remark, Suraj Sharma, spokesperson of the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binay Tamang faction) said, “This amounts to double standards to hoodwink the innocent people of the hills. Bista did not raise the issue of Gorkhaland during the Lok Sabha election, but raised it at the fag end of the campaign for the Darjeeling Assembly by-poll.”
The BJP manifesto does not mention the demand for statehood. Nevertheless, it is categorical about supporting the demand of granting scheduled tribe status to 11 Gorkha communities. “We will recognise the 11 Indian Gorkha sub-tribes which were left out, as scheduled tribes,” reads the manifesto.
TMC is supporting Binay Tamang, who is contesting as an independent against Neeraj Zimba in the Darjeeling Assembly seat.

Candidate for the by-election in the Darjeeling Assembly constituency
On the last day of campaigns for the upcoming by-election in the Darjeeling Assembly constituency, political outfits and their candidates were seen busy trying to woo the people to vote for them through their campaigns today.
Rallies, door-to-door campaigns and public meetings were held by the parties in different parts of the town. People got to witness all the candidates in fray make one last effort to convince people to vote for them.
As a part of their campaign for Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, Niraj Zimba, the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) was seen taking out a rally in the town and party leaders addressed the public at Chowrasta in the end.
However, Mr. Zimba was missing from the rally as he was campaigning at Pul-Bijanbari block where a public meeting was held.
“We have already talked with BJP president, Amit Shah that we want only 6th Schedule or above as it will be a constitutional guarantee for the hills. We decided to support BJP after being assured by him,” said GNLF leader, Maan Ghisingh.
“There are many political parties and senior leaders of the hills here. We wanted to be united and approached them to bring them on one platform in the Parliamentary elections.
However, it is regretful that some of them are not with us and I still appeal them to think about our community as Mr Zimba losing would mean a loss of our community,” he said.
On the other hand, public meetings were held by the Jan Andolan Party in support of their candidate, Amar Lama at Chowk Baazar where the party president, Dr Harka Bahdaur Chettri was also present.
Mr. Lama also campaigned in the Bijanbari afterwards. Speaking to the media after the meeting, Dr. Chettri said, “We have only taken up issues that are related to the Bidhan Sabha as this election is for it. There are issues like parja-patta (land rights) which morcha leader Binoy Tamang is also saying that he would work on. He is with the state government and it would be easier for him to address the matter but if state government asks him to not address the issue and keep it alive till the next elections in 2021 then he will do that as he will have to listen to them.
However, we are independent from the shackles of state government and we will keep pursuing the matter and raise our voices against such issues.
“Chowk Baazar also saw public meetings being held at short intervals by political outfits like the Indian Democratic Republican Front (IDRF) who has fielded Sanjay Thakuri as their candidate.
It was followed by a joint meeting held by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Tamang camp) women’s wing along with the TMC women’s wing.
On the other hand, GJMM candidate, Binoy Tamang, held a door-to-door campaign with his supporters at Lalkothi area, Gandhi road and other areas falling under Sadar 3 block. He also held a ‘puja’ at a Monastery (Gumba) in Gandhi road.
Door-to-door campaigns were also seen being held by an independent candidate, Swaraj Thapa, who campaigned at Haridas Hatta, Shivagram, Lal Dhikki, Hooker road and other places around Darjeeling.
Independent candidate, Sardha Rai Subba was seen campaigning at Harsing, Chidya Kothi area, Gairi Gaon and other places around the town.
“Binay Tamang recently said in his speech that the state government would give Rs 6,000- 12,000 to tea garden workers as a relief for the strike held in 2017 and we feel that it amounts to bribery for votes. This is a violation of the (Election) Model Code of Conduct and we appeal to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to look into the matter. I also want to ask, is this the value for the struggles they made during that time?” alleged Swaraj Thapa in a press conference.
“I’d also like question BJP candidate, Mr Zimba whether he belongs to the BJP or GNLF as the support of GNLF is confusing and voters should not be kept in the dark,” he added maintaining that he was the third option that voters had.
He also appealed that in future elections the EC should have the Nepali language included in postal ballot papers as only Bengali and the English language was present in it.
On the other hand, Sardha Rai Subba said, “I mostly held door-to-door campaigns at villages and rural belts along with the town but could not cover all the Municipality area. After the results are out, I will visit all places.”
She also alleged that she could not hold a public meeting in the town as she did not get permission from the Municipality even though she had applied for one.
Meanwhile, CPI-M candidate, K B Watter was seen campaigning by meeting people along the way at Bijanbari, Chungthung, Lepcha Jagat among other places.
He also held a public meeting at Sukhia Pokhri. Alleging that BJP was trying to create a division through religion and TMC through communities, Mr Watter also appealed to all that the peace which was seen during the campaigning period should remain during the elections on Sunday as well.
He also said that they would work on the different issues they had raised in the elections along with a solution for the hills which would be similar to 6th Schedule or something higher than that, which would be like a state within a state.

2563rd Buddha Jayanti celebrated in Mungpoo
आज वैशाख पुर्णिमा अर्थात भगवान बुद्धको २५६३ वां जन्म जयन्ति मङपु क्षेत्रका विभिन्न बौद्ध गुम्बाहरुमा विगत केही दिन अघिदेखि नै विभिन्न बुम पाठ, प्रवचन तथा अभिषेक वितरण गरि सम्पन्न भयो | यही लहरमा लाब्दा विभाग स्थित दोङाग छ्योलिङ सार्वजनिक बौद्ध गुम्बामा भव्यताको साथ गौतम बुद्धको जन्म जयन्ति पालन गरियो | बिहानैदेखि भीड लागेका हजारौं भक्तजनहरुले छ्योतेन गुम्बा देवराली सिक्किमबाट आएका टुल्कु छोकटुल थेरबोम सेंगेको बाहुलीबाट पवित्र अभिषेक ग्रहण गरे | साथै गुम्बाका प्रमुख लामा उदय पाख्रीन अनि अन्य सहयोगी लामाद्वारा गत १२ मईदेखि नै बुम पाठ गरिएको थियो |
यसरीनै मङपु विभाग गोपाल धुरा स्थित छोइखोरलिङ सार्वजनिक बौद्ध गुम्बामा पनि बुद्ध लामाको अगुवाईमा बुद्ध जयन्ति पालन गर्दै अभिषेक वितरण गरियो | गुम्बा संचालन समिति सभापति युसी योन्जन अनि सचिव सीकी वाइबाले बुद्ध जयन्ति सफल बनाउन जुटेका सम्पूर्ण प्रति कृतज्ञता प्रकट गरेका छन् |
बिचकमान विभागभित्र पर्ने झोकछेन कोनछ्योक च्यिदुई सार्वजनिक गुम्बा कपिस डाँडामा खरसाङ सिपाईधुराबाट आएका सोनाम लामाद्वारा अभिषेक वितरण गरियो भने देछेन थार्बालिङ सार्वजनिक बौद्ध गुम्बा रङबी विभाग भैँसेटारमा जिग्मी टुल्कुको बाहुलीबाट अभिषेक वितरण गरियो साथै लालबीर लामाको अगुवाईमा बुम पाठ आदि गरिएको थियो | यसरी नै झ्याङछुब छोइखोरलिङ सार्वजनिक बौद्ध गुम्बा लगायत रेसेप गुम्बामा पनि भगवान बुद्धको जन्म जयन्ति पालन गरियो ||

Raju Bista BJP MP candidate from Darjeeling Constituency
Raju Bista, the BJP candidate for the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, said on Friday “they would bring Gorkhaland”, doing so after his party’s silence on the issue during the two month campaign for the parliamentary polls.
“They” was a reference to Raju himself and Neeraj Zimba, a GNLF leader contesting Sunday’s Darjeeling Assembly bypoll on a BJP ticket. “What will this Gorkha do? They will bring Gorkhaland,” Bista told supporters at Chowrasta here on the last day of the campaign for the byelection.
The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha’s Binay Tamang faction dismissed Bista’s statement as a bid to “fool” the people. Tamang is Zimba’s main rival in the bypoll.
The BJP, its allies like the GNLF, and Raju had earlier only spoken about a “permanent political solution” for the hills. This was mentioned in the BJP manifesto, as was a promise to grant tribal status to 11 hill groups.
GNLF leaders had during the Lok Sabha campaign said the permanent solution should be “constitutional” and that they would settle for nothing less than Sixth Schedule status — a provision allowing some regions greater autonomy.
Observers believe that any support for Gorkhaland can have a major impact in the rest of Bengal as the demand is opposed in the plains. Against this background, Bista’s comments on Friday surprised many.
“I want to say a few things on what I, along with my mota daju, will do on winning the elections,” Bista said. The BJP camp fondly refers to Zimba as “mota”.
Suraj Sharma, a spokesperson for the Tamang camp, accused Bista and Zimba of doublespeak.
“When the (Lok Sabha) elections had not started in Bengal, they (BJP and allies) had refrained from uttering Gorkhaland. Now that the elections in Bengal are almost over, Raju Bista has uttered Gorkhaland,” Sharma said.

4.7 magnitude Earthquake strikes 66km west of Kathmandu
An earthquake of magnitude 4.7 jolted Nepal on Friday. According to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, the epicentre of the earthquake was 65 km northwest of Kathmandu. It was a shallow earthquake with a depth of just 2 km, which makes it more deadly. The EMSC also said that it was in the Indo-Nepal border region. The country located in mighty Himalayas witnessed a similar magnitude earthquake last month. No casualty or any property damage was reported after that earthquake. According to the Indian Metrological Department, the earthquake had occurred on 06:14:33 am at the Latitude 27.7 North and Longitude 85.1 E, at the depth of 10 Km. However, the National Emergency Operation Centre, Nepal, two more earthquakes were reported in brief span of 20 minutes, which were of magnitudes of 5.2 and 4.3. The epicentre of these earthquake was in Naubise in Dhading District. So far, three earthquakes have occurred in Nepal in last one hour at 6:14, 6:29 and 6:40 am respectively.
The early morning hours have seen tremors in this Himalyan region. A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Arunachal Pradesh on the same day, the US Geological Survey said. The epicentre of the shallow quake was about 40 kilometres (25 miles) southeast of Along, and 180 kilometres southwest of the state capital Itanagar. It struck at 1.45 am. Arunachal Pradesh is least densely populated state, but is still home to more than 1.2 million people, according to the state government's website. China's official state news agency Xinhua said the quake was felt in Tibet also.
Earlier on April 16, a magnitude 4.5 earthquake jolted Gorkha district in Nepal, causing panic among the residents. The quake was felt in Gorkha district and surrounding areas around 12:35 p.m, according to the National Seismological Center (NSC). However, there was no report of any damage. It was the third quake that hit Nepal in the past five days. On April 13, a 4.6-magnitude earthquake hit Rasuwa district while another 4.8-magnitude quake jolted far-west Nepal's Bajhang district on April 14. A powerful earthquake struck Gorkha district in April 2015, killing 9,000 people.
The 7.8 magnitude earthquake that rocked Nepal in April 2015 is also known as the Gorkha earthquake. About 9,000 people lost their lives while nearly 22,000 were injured in the tremor. Till 2017, 487 aftershocks of magnitude 4 or more were experienced since Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake in April 2015.
At that time, to assist earthquake-ravaged Nepal in its reconstruction effort, India had pledged to build 50,000 houses in its two worst hit districts. India signed an agreement with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to build 50,000 homes for quake victims in Gorkha, the epicentre of 2015 earthquake, and the Nuwakot district.
Under the project, 26,912 home owners were benefited in Gorkha and 23,088 homeowners in Nuwakot, according to Indian Embassy sources.
Socio-technical teams from UNDP and UNOPS will assist home owners to reconstruct their houses as per the Government of Nepal’s earthquake resistant norms.
Under the agreement, India gave $8.41 million to the UNOPS and $7.41 Million to the UNDP for the reconstruction of the 50,000 homes.

9 candidates to fight Darjeeling Assembly by-polls
Darjeeling: The stage is all set for the Assembly by-polls in Darjeeling to be held on May 19. There are 9 candidates in the fray in the by-polls. There are 321 polling stations in the Assembly constituency. The number of voters is 234758 including 115665 males and 119093 females. There are 3,950 service voters as well. Polling personnel departed for the P-2 booths on Friday. The P-2 booths are those that are located in remote areas and require more than a day to reach. In some cases, man loads and ponies are used to carry the EVMs and VVPATs.

There are three such P-2 booths in the Darjeeling district and 11 in Kalimpong. The P-2 booths in Darjeeling include Danragaon, Srikhola Primary School and Rammam Forest Village Primary School in Darjeeling district. The P-2 booths in Darjeeling include the highest booth (Srikhola Primary School at 11000 ft). Along with the state police, CAPF will be deputed for the elections.

"We have got 16 company of CAPF for elections. They have already started area domination and route marches," stated Amarnath K, Superintendent of Police, Darjeeling. Campaigning ended at 5 pm on Friday with political parties holding rallies and going on door-to-door visits. Incidentally, Amar Singh Rai, the MLA from Darjeeling, had resigned and is contesting the Lok Sabha elections. He has been fielded by the TMC backed by the GJM (Binay Tamang faction). With Rai resigning, the seat had fallen vacant.

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