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CM Mamata invites GNLF president Mann Ghisingh to swearing-in Ceremony


Darjeeling : Mamata Banerjee has invited GNLF president Mann Ghisingh to her swearing-in in Calcutta , a move which is indicative of the control the new government is likely to have over hill parties. Apart from the GNLF, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and the Jana Andolan Party have also been invited to the oath-taking. While Harka Bahadur Chhetri, the president of the JAP, is already in Calcutta, Morcha chief Gurung flew from Delhi to Calcutta this evening. N.B. Chhetri, the spokesman for the GNLF, today said: "Our party president yesterday received an invitation for the swearing-in ceremony and left for Calcutta today. We believe the invitation is an acknowledgment of our party's support to Trinamul in the Assembly elections."

Even though the GNLF had supported Trinamul in the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, there were no major events to suggest that Mamata was courting the hill party. Chhetri said: "The share of votes that the opposition has received in the Assembly elections (in three hill constituencies) also indicates that our decision to support Trinamul was accepted by the hill people. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, we could not put up election agents in more than 25 per cent of the booths in the hills. But during the Assembly elections, we had agents in more than 95 per cent of the booths." He added: "Even the margin of the Morcha's victory suggests that the party is losing its grip in the hills."

The Morcha's winning margin in the three hill segments has come down by more than 50 per cent this year compared to 2011 elections. Chhetri said the GNLF hoped that new government would work towards fulfiling the aspiration of the hill people. The GNLF wants implementation of Sixth Schedule status in the hills. Observers believe with the three principal parties in the hills, the Morcha, GNLF and JAP, looking to forge a strong relation with the state government, Mamata is unlikely to face any major hurdles at least for sometime. "You never know how politics shape up. But at least for some time, the state government is unlikely to face any major problem in administrating the hills given that even Trinamul's main rival Morcha is looking at establishing a working relation with the state," said an observer.

Forest meet

Ratan Thapa, the executive GTA Sabha member in charge of forest, alleged on Thursday that the state government had failed to send its representatives to a meeting to discuss the transfer of reserve forests to the hill body. "The meeting (on Thursday) was co-ordinated by chief conservator of forest (hills) office, which is under the state government. But it was unfortunate that there was no representative of the state at the meeting," alleged Thapa. M.R. Baloah, CCF (hills), could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

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