West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar on Thursday slammed the previous board that ran the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in Darjeeling for alleged violation of rules and said that those who committed transgressions will be brought to book.
Dhankhar, who is in Darjeeling, asserted that an audit would be held annually to keep a tab on GTA expenditure.
GTA, a semi-autonomous body which administers Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong sub-divisions, was formed in 2011. The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) that swept the elections to the council the following year had operated its board until 2017 when a government-appointed administrator took over. Fresh elections to the GTA were held last month.
The governor, after administering the oath to the new chief executive of the council, Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha (BGPM) leader Anit Thapa, said that provisions of the GTA Act had been flouted in the past.
"I congratulate everyone who has come to be elected; it is a great responsibility. Provisions of the GTA act had been violated for lack of accountability and transparency, with no audit taking place even once. The audit should have been held every year," he said after the oath-taking ceremony.
Dhankhar, lauding the BGPM-led board for starting new innings on a clean slate, however, cautioned its members against "transgressions".
"This team is starting on a clean slate. Make sure there are no violations; make sure you show your commitment. You have my assurance there will be an audit for each year, and everyone found committing transgressions will be brought to book,"" he said.
The BGPM, formed just nine months ago, emerged as the largest party in last month's GTA elections, winning 27 out of its 45 seats. Polls to the GTA were held in June after a decade that was marked by a series of changes in the region's political dynamics.
"This should have been the third GTA elections; unfortunately, this is the second one,"Dhankhar said. Later in a tweet, he stated that all misdeeds of the council would be thoroughly investigated.
"Guv Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar administered Oath of Office of Chief Executive #GTA to Shri @AnitThapa14 today. Guv exhorted elected representatives to work with honesty & assured that all past misdeeds will be thoroughly investigated and all responsible will be dealt as per law," he wrote.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who returned to Kolkata after completion of her three-day tour of the Hills, said that she wanted peace in the region.
"Anit Thapa took oath today. I congratulated him. I want more employment generation in the hills. I want peace in the hills," she said before leaving for the state capital.
Darjeeling, often referred to as the Queen of the Hills, witnessed several agitations over the years for a separate state. In 2017, scheduled elections to GTA could not be held owing to violent protests over the demand, prompting the government to appoint an administrator to run the council.
Traditional hill parties like the GJM and the Gorkha National Liberation Front, besides the BJP, had boycotted June elections, claiming that the body had little autonomy.
(With PTI inputs)