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GNLF celebrates 35th foundation day honing on Sixth Schedule

PRADIP LOHAGUN
KALIMPONG : The Gorkha National Liberation Front today organised a meeting to mark its 35th foundation day in Kalimpong. Despite announcing its support to the TMC, the party’s Kalimpong leaders nether spoke about Bhaichung Bhutia nor did they make an effort to promote the party for the Lok Sabha Elections 2014. The leaders clearly focused and advocated on the implementation of the Sixth Schedule status. The party meeting was addressed by unit leaders including Maurice Kalikotay, Roshan Lama, Anil Lopchan, William Yonzon and KP Poudyal, among others. Kalikotay said the party has remained dormant since the last seven years, but has resurfaced now to bring about a change in the political scenario of the hills. “The GNLF will not pay the people to support and attend party meetings like the other parties are doing. However, the people who have come to attend the meeting by spending money from their pocket have realised that there is a new wave of political activity ever since our arrival,” he stated. Kalikote claimed, “Gorkhaland can be formed without keeping the geographical, historical and political agendas as pertinent issues. We have many documents that none of the other parties have and the GNLF will use them to secure a separate state of Gorkhaland.”

The party will emerge as one of the most powerful organisations in the hills after the elections, he further averred. Anil Lopchan said the Sixth Schedule status should be implemented regardless of whichever party forms the government and no one should oppose it. “The Sixth Schedule status comes from a voting process and no political party can discard it, and the status is to secure the future of the hills and should not be opposed by anyone,” he remarked. Lopchan also slammed the ruling Congress party at the Center and the CPM for ignoring the demands of the Gorkha people. He questioned Darjeeling CPM candidate Saman Pathak for supporting the Sixth Schedule on the eve of the election when his party had earlier rejected the demand. He said Pathak has now realised the importance of the Sixth Schedule and is using the agenda during his campaigns. He also alleged that the CPM had a hand in forming the GJM to oppose the Sixth Schedule status. Lopchan went on to thank Mamata Banerjee for forwarding the demand to the central government for giving minority community status to 10 ethnic communities of the hills. Reacting to the GNLF’s decision to support TMC, Roshan Lama advocated, “The party’s decision to support the TMC does not mean we are an anti-Gorkha party. We are supporting the TMC for the benefit of the people and for the implementation of the Sixth Schedule.”

GNLF celebrates foundation day in Ghising’s absence 
Recalling the statehood demand he had launched nearly three decades ago that took more than 1,200 lives, Gorkha National Liberation Front president Subash Ghising today said the agitation was an effort to safeguard the Nepali community facing victimization across the country. The GNLF celebrated its 34th foundation day across the Darjeeling hills. But Ghisingh remained conspicuous by his absence in a programme held at the Tenzing Norgay Youth Hostel near his residence at Dr. Zakir Hussain Road, Darjeeling. The GNLF president however, did unfurl the party flag atop his residence from his room with help from aides. Briefing media persons later while citing health-related problems, the GNLF chief said, "At that time, Nepalis residing in the country used to be victimised as outsiders. I had to do something to put an end to this; hence I raked up the demand for a separate Gorkhaland state. However, after the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988, the issue was victimisation problem was more or less resolved.” He added, "The Gorkhaland demand was a "brahmasthra" that I used which has done its job.” 

During the height of the four-year second round of agitation for statehood by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha, Ghisingh had again evoked the "brahmasthra" word during a public meeting in 2011 when it was Assembly election time, and had also said he had never demanded a separate state. He had also said experience had taught him how difficult it was to achieve a separate state. The GNLF president today reiterated his demand for including the Darjeeling hills under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution that he had taken up in 2004 saying it to be the ideal arrangement. He also said the DGHC should be revived as the setup has constitutional guarantee and is a step towards Sixth Schedule status. A memorandum of understanding on this was also signed between the state and central governments and the GNLF in December 2005. “I will take up the matter with the state and central governments once the election is over," said Ghisingh. But when reminded that the TMC’s brainchild, the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, was functioning, the old septuagenarian leader said, "Whether the state government will revive the DGHC or not I don't know. But it is our political stand.” 

On his decision to support TMC candidate Bhaichung Bhutia in the Lok Sabha election, Ghisingh said it was on the capability of the candidate and no bargaining was involved. "He (Bhaichung) is young, energetic and an able candidate. He is also a highly decorated figure. I did not bargain nor did I talk to senior TMC leaders when I took the decision to support Bhaichung," the GNLF chief said. Echoing a party leader's statement made on Friday that the GNLF would not campaign jointly with the TMC, Ghisingh said, "The GNLF and TMC will not campaign from the same platform. Whatever needs to be done will happen through distribution of pamphlets and I think this is more than enough.”

- EOI
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