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Mamata, Gurung pledge to work together for development

DARJEELING : Chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung on Wednesday shared the stage in Darjeeling in an apparent show of ‘burying the hatchet’ and pledged to work together to develop the hills. The occasion was the prize distribution ceremony of the Himal Terai Dooars Sports Festival organised by the Darjeeling police in Dali, 4km from town. Both leaders restricted their speeches to just a little more than five minutes, and unlike on most previous occasions, spared the other any harsh word. The chief minister began in her now familiar way, “Kanchenjunga is smiling, Darjeeling is smiling and my brothers and sisters are smiling. I am happy and want the people of Darjeeling to also be happy.” She ensured her short speech did not contain any political undertones. “Darjeeling is an education hub and we are proud of it. The youths here are talented and we must help them. Our government will extend all possible help with the GTA’s support,” said Mamata. With Gurung listening attentively, the chief minister stated, “Gurungji is here in Darjeeling. 

The GTA and the state government will work together hand-in-hand for the welfare of the hills.” The GJM also had some good words coming for the chief minister, saying she loved the hills. “The chief minister loves the hills and sports and that is the reason why she keeps coming,” he said. Games and sports have helped a lot in improving relations between the hills and the plains, claimed Gurung. “Mamataji has played an important role in improving ties between the hills and plains due to her love for sports,” said the GJM president bringing a smile on Mamata’s lips. He said the GTA would extend every possible support to the police to organise the event in the coming days as it points the youths of the hills to the right direction. The GTA would help former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, whom the chief minister felicitated with the ‘Bangla Gaurav’ award, in his endeavour to provide the youth of the hills with a platform to promote games and sports. “The GTA will extend 100 per cent support to the Darjeeling police and to Bhutia as they are involved in good causes. Their gesture will dissuade the youths from substance abuse and give them an opportunity to lead a good life,” said Gurung. Mamata and Gurung both urged the children present to follow their dreams and take up sporting activities whether they win or lose. “Winning and losing is not important. 

But it is participating and following your dreams that are important in making you better persons,” they said. The chief minister was invited by the Darjeeling police to present prizes to the winners of the recently concluded sports festival. She also inaugurated the Bloomfield Police Mess and laid the foundation for a girls’ hostel at the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute. “The HMI conducts a lot of expeditions and training programmes. The hostel will benefit girl candidates. The police force is also doing a commendable job and their interests have to be looked after. This is why I asked the DG to repair the police quarters here,” said Mamata. Later in the day, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said a six-member GTA delegation including the three MLAs of the hills would meet the chief minister on Thursday at Richmond Hill. However, Gurung will not attend the meeting as he will be leaving for Nepal then. Although Giri refused to divulge the agenda for the meeting, sources said issues including transfer of departments to the GTA, withdrawal of cases against GJM leaders and implementation of the Minimum Wage Act for tea garden workers are among some key issues expected to be taken up with the chief minister.
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