Kalimpong, Sept 3 IBNS | 2 years ago

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday ruled out division of the state and urged the elected Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) members to choose an executive chief and work for development of Darjeeling hills.

Speaking at an felicitation prorgamme organised by the Indigenous Lepcha Tribal Association (ILTA) here, Banerjee made it clear that if the GTA members did not choose an executive member from themselves, then the government might act upon it.

"Since the GTA is an elected body, the government wants that the chief executive is elected by the members," she said.

GTA's principal secretary RD Meena convened the GTA meeting for Sept 4 to elect an chief executive. The post fell vacant after Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung, who is spearheading separate statehood demand, resigned on July 31.

"We in the government can not allow some leaders to dictate the terms like saying to people to stay home and some time to stay out and denying them freedom from food and schooling," Banerjee said.

"It is like an autocracy in a democratic country. Even a king did not dare to order people like this, the chief minster pointed out at the GJM's alleged diktat "gharer bitra janta," and " gharer bahira janta" for past one month.

However, defying the ongoing "gharer bitra janta", thousands of people, mostly from the Lepcha community assembled at the local football ground to hear the chief minster despite inclement weather.

Banerjee said how the leaders would understand the pain of the common people about closure of all establishments, including educational institutions, when their own children are studying outside the Darjeeling hills.

"Look, I have come in Darjeeling for about 20 times in past two years only for ensuring development of the hills. But here the leaders in every six months demand something or other and have destroyed the momentum," she said.

Banerjee said she would rather embrace death than seeing the state was divided.

"Why every six months there is disturbances in the hills while Rs 300 crore meant for development work for the hills are remaining unspent," said Banerjee.

"Earlier we have seen during Subhash Ghisingh [Gorkhaland National Liberation Front (GNLF) founder] time there was movement and now after constituting the GTA still there is movement. Then, where the people here would find development," she said.

Banerjee also announced a series of developmental schemes for the aboriginal Lepcha community like setting up a Lepcha heritage centre, Lepcha academy, a community centre, a library and introduction of Lepcha language in the primary classes from next academic year; besides a construction of a building for Lepcha Development Board, which celebrated the one-year of launching.

Banerjee also announced 5000 youth would be given government jobs in the police force.

Banerjee, who arrived here on Monday afternoon had a high power meeting with the top civil and police officials.

She would leave shortly for Silguri and halt for the day.

(Posted on 03-09-2013)