THE HIMALAYAN BEACON SILIGURI NEWS BUREAU
SILIGURI, 17 JANUARY 2018: Ashok Bhattacharya, former Minister and CPIM State Secretariat member has called for the immediate Tripartite Talks to resolve the “various political issues” involving Darjeeling Hills. “The Chief Minister, who is regularly meeting some parties, must invite all other political parties like us, the Congress and the BJP. Simultaneously, the Centre should initiate tripartite talks under the GTA accord and must include Bimal Gurung and others in it,” Bhattacharya said. Bhattacharya is also the Member of Legislative Assembly from Siliguri.
Bhattacharya and his party colleague Jibesh Sarkar, the district CPM secretary, were speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, a day after the district conference of the party concluded.
When inquired about the issue of the separate state of Gorkhaland both Sarkar and Bhattacharya stressed on the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) to work. However, they said that the body can only work after the elections has been called. It may be noted that Bharatiya Janata Party has demanded that that State Government call elections for the GTA. The Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh had asked the Chief Minister to work towards holding elections to the GTA so that the body could work in a full-fledged manner. It may be noted that presently, both Binay Tamang and Anit Thapa who are Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Board of Administrators of GTA have been nominated by the State Government as an interim measure.
Political Observers in the hills are of the view that with Bimal Gurung fighting his case in the Supreme Court and these parties particularly CPIM and the BJP having not been able to gain a good footing the hill are interested in roping in Bimal Gurung’s support in the upcoming elections so that they can stand a better chance. Presently, Trinamool Congress have been able to forge good working relation with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (Binay-Anit) faction and the faction being able to take over three of the Municipalities in the hills, the TMC being at the helm of Mirik Municipality, the opposition parties feel that in order to make any impact, they will have to seek support from Bimal Gurung, who though having lost a great deal of support still has the ability to swing support in his favour if indeed he is able to gain bail and return to active politics.