ST status to dominate Lok Sabha polls in hills

GNLF organised Banbo Festival at Chowrasta in Darjeeling
Darjeeling: The demand to grant tribal status to 11 Gorkha communities is set to emerge as a major issue the coming Lok Sabha elections, 15 years after it dominated the political landscape of the hills.
The BJP has once again raked up the issue with Darjeeling MP S.S. Ahluwalia meeting Union tribal minister Jual Oram with the demand to grant the ST tag to the 11 hill communities.
Roshan Giri had claimed that the minister had sought six weeks to complete a report on the matter.
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Binay Tamang immediately responded to the visit terming it as political stunt and reminding that Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had written to the trial minister on February 14 on the matter.

GNLF organised Banbo Festival at Chowrasta in Darjeeling


Tamang said at the initiative of the GTA, representatives of the 11 communities had met the minister concerned earlier.
However, it is the GNLF which seems to eye more political dividends.
"Granting of ST status to the 11 Gorkha communities will definitely strengthen our demand to bring the hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution," said Neeraj Zimba, a senior GNLF leader.
The Sixth Schedule provision is largely for administration of tribal-dominated areas in the Northeast. The GNLF wanted the provisions to be extended to the hills even though the tribal population was only 33 per cent in 2005.
Observers believe the demand did not get the expected support from the hill population as non-tribals are in a majority.
However, the issue seems to have given new enthusiasm to the GNLF, which organised a Banbo Festival at Chowrasta in Darjeeling on Sunday. The festival was started by Subash Ghisigh and is dedicated to shamans (jhakris). The festival was discontinued after the Morcha ousted the GNLF from power in 2008 and was revived only a few years back.
Many believe that Ghisingh had started the festival to "showcase the tribal character" of the hill people.

The Telegraph
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The demand to grant tribal status to 11 Gorkha communities is set to emerge as a major issue the coming Lok Sabha elections, 15 years after it dominated the political landscape of the hills.GNLF, which organised a Banbo Festival at Chowrasta in Darjeeling

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