Mamata Banerjee announces formation of Board of Administrators for GTA
Darjeeling, September 20, 2017: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced the formation of an administrative board to run the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA.) Rebel Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders Binay Tamang has been nominated as the Chairman of the board and Anit Thapa the Vice Chairman.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee making an announcement at Nabannya, the State Secretariat stated "Invoking clause 65B of the GTA Act we have formed a Board of Administrators to run the GTA. The GTA Board had resigned. Though peace has returned in the Hills the environment is not conducive for elections at present. Till elections can be held the Board of Administrators will oversee development activities of the GTA. The Board will enjoy the power enjoyed by the GTA Chief" stated the Chief Minister. The Board includes Binay Tamang as the Chairman, Anit Thapa as Vice Chairman. The members includes Darjeeling MLA Amar Singh Rai; Mirik Municipal Chairman LB Rai; GTA Principal Secretary; GNLF President Mann Ghising; Sanchabir Subba, Joytun Khatun and Anu Chettri. The official notification is expected to be out by late evening.
When contacted Binay Tamang stated "I do not know anything about this. I have received no official communication nor intimation. There is no notification also. This matter was not discussed with me ever. Only after there is an official communication will I comment."
Interestingly both Tamang and Thapa had met the CM at Nabannya on Monday.
Political commentators claim that with this move the Government has further managed to alienate Gurung and his sympathizers. The pro-Gorkhaland forces have been constantly demanding for tripartite talks.
"With Binay Tamang being made the Chairman of the Board of Administrators, in case of tripartite talks between the Centre, State and the GJM, the State Government can with ease acknowledge the Binay Tamang faction as the GJM. It will give legitimacy to the Binay Tamang faction." stated a political observer.
Incidentally on June 23, 2017, a few days before the end of the tenure of the administrative body, GTA Chief Bimal Gurung along with 42 Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) elected and nominated members tendered their resignations from the GTA en masse.
While Gurung and two nominated GJM members had sent their resignations to the Governor of West Bengal, the others tendered resignations to the Principal Secretary, GTA.
Gurung and the GJM were under pressure from the Gorkhaland Movement Coordination Committee (a conglomeration of 14 pro Gorkhaland outfits) to resign from the GTA and walk the path of agitation.
"We had run the GTA and had realized that the GTA like the previous Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council cannot fulfill the aspiration of masses. Both the DGHC and the GTA are failures. Owing to this we had resigned en mass and had commenced the agitation for Gorkhaland. Even Binay Tamanag and Anit Thapa had resigned. It is shocking to see that the duo are returning back to the GTA. This proves that they have compromised the Gorkhaland demand" alleged Jyoti Kumar Rai, Assistant Secretary, GJM.
Rai stated that it is evident that if tripartite talks are held the State will ensure that Tamang is invited. "This will make it easy for them to discuss more powers and functions to the GTA. However the Hills will not accept. So much of sacrifice by the public will go in vain. We want tripartite talks but only on the Gorkhaland issue and not on more powers and functions to the GTA" added Rai.
Incidentally an agitation had taken place under the aegis of Bimal Gurung and the GJM in 2008 which culminated in the signing of the GTA Accord between the Union, State and the GJM on July 18, 2011.
The tripartite accord had paved way for the formation of the GTA, an autonomous administrative body, in the Hills of Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. Election to the GTA was held on July 30, 2012. After winning all 45 seats of the GTA, the GJM members led by Gurung had been sworn to office on 4th August 2012.
Commenting on being nominated as a member of the Board of Administrators, Mann Ghising, President, Gorkha National Liberation Front stated "It is totally unacceptable. This has been done without consultation. We do not want anything to do with the GTA. It has been rejected by the people. It will be never be accepted by the people and cannot be forced onto them. The GNLF gave up the 6th Schedule demand for people's aspiration and to be part of the people's movement for Gorkhaland. So GTA is in no way acceptable to me or my party."