GNLF demands Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling to back TMC against CAA

GNLF demands Sixth Schedule status for Darjeeling to back TMC against CAA
The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which carried out the most violent agitation in the 1980s and 90s in demand for a separate state for Gorkhas in Bengal’s Darjeeling district, on Tuesday offered to support chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s agitation against the amended citizenship law if the region was granted special status under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Only regions where tribal people are in majority are accorded special status under the Sixth Schedule. In the Darjeeling hills, the population of 8.75 lakh comprise only 32% scheduled tribes.
The oldest of the Gorkha parties, GNLF was formed and led by Subash Ghising, who served in the army before the movement and is considered an icon by Gorkhas. The statehood movement was taken over by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) after Ghising died in 2015.
The GNLF supported the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and the Darjeeling assembly by-poll. The Darjeeling assembly seat was won by former GNLF spokesperson Niraj Zimba, who contested on a BJP ticket but continues to work for the hill party. The GNLF has not clarified its stand on these issues even as Zimba supported the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Union home minister Amit Shah has clarified that CAA will not be applicable to states where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is in force and the tribal areas in the North-East states that are notified under the Sixth Schedule.
Tuesday’s development took place while Banerjee, who is on a five-day tour of north Bengal, visited different parts of Darjeeling in preparation of her first rally in the town against the CAA, NRC and the National Population Register (NPR). She will lead the rally on Wednesday. The Trinamool Congress lost all the Lok Sabha seats in north Bengal in 2019 and recovering these votes is a challenge for Banerjee.
“Since the chief minister is in Darjeeling I will not comment on this,” said state tourism minister and TMC legislator from Dabgram-Phulbari constituency.
GNLF, which is now led by Ghising’s son Mann Ghising, claimed that CAA will adversely affect the Gorkhas. After holding an internal meeting, GNLF leaders said the party has no problem supporting Banerjee in her agitation against CAA, NRC and NPR if the state government supports GNLF’s demand for special status.
“GNLF is our partner but they can have a different stand,” said Darjeeling’s BJP MP Raju Bista.
Mann Ghising was not available for comments. Mahindra Chettri, GNLF spokesperson said, “Our party today decided to oppose CAA, NPR and NRC as these will cause harm to the Gorkhas. We will support Banerjee if she supports our demand for special status under Sixth Schedule.”

The GJM (Binay Tamang faction) which is an ally of TMC is spearheading the movement against the citizenship law. It welcomed GNLF’s decision but with a clause. Keshav Raj Pokhrel, the party’s spokesperson said, “We welcome GNLF’s stand on the central law. However, we are opposed to the demand for Sixth Schedule status because Gorkhas in India should be declared original inhabitants and not tribes.”
Govind Chettri, spokesperson of the Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxists (CPRM) said, “GNLF should first clear its stand. Either it wants a separate state for Gorkhas or, special status under Sixth Schedule.”

https://www.hindustantimes.com
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The Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), which carried out the most violent agitation in the 1980s and 90s in demand for a separate state for Gorkhas in Bengal’s Darjeeling district, on Tuesday offered to support chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s agitation against the amended citizenship law if the region was granted special status under Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

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