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Tuesday 14 February 2012

Morcha oils street levers for GTA - Sunday protests kick off a day after Mamata visit RAJEEV RAVIDAS

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Subject: Morcha oils street levers for GTA - Sunday protests kick off a day after Mamata visit RAJEEV RAVIDAS

Morcha oils street levers for GTA

- Sunday protests kick off a day after Mamata visit
A procession taken out for Gorkhaland by Nari Morcha members in Darjeeling on Sunday. Picture by Suman Tamang
Kalimpong, Feb. 12: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha took to the streets for a separate state for the first time today since the signing of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration agreement and a day after Mamata Banerjee's visit to the hills.
The move, party leaders admitted, was part of a two-pronged strategy to force the government for an early implementation of the pact and to counter rivals who have been trying to use the delay to drum up support in their favour.
Rallies and public meetings were held across the hills by the frontal organisations of the Morcha, whose supporters shouted slogans for Gorkhaland.
The processions culminated in public meetings, where speakers spoke in favour of statehood. Although planned earlier, the rallies come a day after chief minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the Centre for the delay in implementing the GTA and promised the Morcha that she would discuss the matter with the Prime Minister.
Asked why the rallies were still being held despite the chief minister's assurance, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: "The programmes announced will continue. We want speedy implementation of the GTA."
The Morcha will hold similar rallies and public meetings all over the hills every Sunday in the weeks ahead.
Binay Tamang, the Morcha assistant secretary, said the GTA would not be a stumbling block to Gorkhaland and the party would continue to raise the demand for a separate state before and after its formation.
Tamang said a series of programmes would also be held in Mirik from February 24 to March 1 in favour of Gorkhaland.
Although Tamang denied the Mirik programme was an attempt to thwart the GNLF from campaigning for a Sixth Schedule status for the hills, many felt it was otherwise. "The GNLF has said it will hold a public meeting in Mirik on February 26 to drum up support for the Sixth Schedule. The Morcha's Mirik-centric programmes are an obvious attempt to counter that," said an observer.
Arjun Rai, a GNLF leader from Mirik, said his party was yet to decide on the public meeting.
"Nothing is firmed up. We are thinking of holding the meeting. I don't want to react to other parties' decisions but what is important is that we are in favour of Sixth Schedule. We will do all that is in our means to force the Centre to implement the tripartite pact granting Sixth Schedule status to the hills," he said.
The Morcha has accused its rivals of trying to use the delay in the formation of GTA to their advantage.
Morcha president Bimal Gurung last week launched a scathing attack on Gorkhaland Task Force, targeting Chhatrey Subba in particular and accusing him of harbouring Maoists.
The ABGL, CPRM, GNLF(C), Bharatiya Gorkha Parisang and the Gorkha Rajya Nirman Morcha are members of the GTF.
"The Morcha obviously believes that the opposing voices are getting vocal by the day because of the delay in the implementation of GTA. They seem to have learnt the lesson from the GNLF, which lost ground partly because of the long delay in the implementation of the Sixth Schedule pact," said an observer.
Gurung has also accused a section of the media of providing a platform to his opponents so that they can continue with their campaign against his party even though they do not enjoy any public support.
The local channel here has stopped airing news based programmes after Gurung's allegation.
The Morcha denied that the party had anything to do with the programmes going off air. "The decision to stop telecasting the news is that of the cable operator," said Tamang. The civil society has taken strong exception to the development.
"The news programmes must be allowed to resume. The local cable operator should not be allowed to feel insecure. This is the demand of the public," said N.P. Dixit, the president of the Citizens' Rights Forum, Kalimpong.

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