GJM Climbs Down GTA Demand, Says Polls in June-July
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In an apparent climbdown, the GJM today concurred with the West Bengal government that elections to form the Gorkha Territorial Administration would be held in June-end or early July.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha had earlier demanded that the GTA be formed within March 27, failing which with it threatened to launch an agitation in Darjeeling for a separate Gorkhaland.

"Notwithstanding the receipt of recommendations of the High Power Committee, the first elections would be held on the basis of delimitation of constituencies in the region as specified in the Act," GJM General Secretary Roshan Giri told reporters.

Giri was quoting a statement containing five decisions taken unanimously during a two-hour parley between GJM leaders including its chief Bimal Gurung and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the Writers' Buildings here.

Expressing satisfaction at the meeting, Giri said it was also unanimously decided that the Justice (retd) Sen Committee would be requested to submit its report on the inclusion of additional areas of Siliguri, Terai and Dooars in the GTA by early June this year.

"It was also unanimously decided that both the state government and the GJM agreed to abide by the recommendations of the high-power committee," he said.

"The government will issue notification including new areas, if any, as may be recommended by the high-power committee," Giri said quoting the statement.

The Committee was set up by the West Bengal government to ascertain the jurisdiction of the GTA.

"For the new area, if any, which may be included in GTA on the basis of recommendation of high-power Committee, the government will nominate representatives from the new areas in consultation with the GJM," Giri said.

The GJM has demanded 398 mouzas (area less than a sub- division), including 196 from Dooars, 199 from Terai and 3 from Rajganj area near Siliguri, to be included in the GTA.

GJM president Bimal Gurung said that at the time of signing of the GTA agreement, it was envisaged that the high-power Committee would submit its report within six months on the inclusion of areas in the Terai and Dooars.

He said that if the report was submitted earlier, it would have been beneficial.

The GJM had earlier threatened to burn copies of the tripartite agreement on April 17 if the West Bengal government did not implement the GTA by March 27.

Asked whether they still stick to their agitation programme or would call it off, Gurung said, "We will decide after sitting among ourselves."

After the meeting, Gurung, however, said that elections would be held only after submission of the report of the high- power committee.

He also said there should be representation from the Darjeeling hills to the Rajya Sabha from West Bengal.

"We requested the chief minister to see that the next time, when there will be vacancies in Rajya Sabha from West Bengal, there should be representation from the hills," Gurung said.

State Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh told reporters there would be five nominated representatives in the GTA, in case additional areas are included in its jurisdiction.

The representatives would be nominated by the Governor. There would 45 elected members to the GTA.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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