The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Thursday swept the polls to the
Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), capturing all 45
seats in the proposed Darjeeling hills governing body.
However, an elated GJM leadership reiterated that the winning of
the GTA polls doesn't detract from the demand for the separate
state of Gorkhaland.
The process of elections to the 45 GTA seats, held July 29, came
to an end Thursday with GJM emerging victorious.
The GJM had already won a majority even before the elections took
place by bagging 28 seats uncontested, after candidates of the
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Independents withdrew
from the fray accusing the GJM of letting loose a reign of terror.
The Trinamool Congress, which initially had decided to contest in
17 seats, also pulled out after party supremo and West Bengal
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee so decided.
Expressing happiness over the tremendous victory, GJM general
secretary Roshan Giri told IANS: "The victory in all the seats has
shown the faith that the people of the hills have reposed on us.
Our priorities will be overall development of the hills with
special attention to tourism, education and health."
The long-standing agitation on the demand for forming a separate
state out of the northern West Bengal hills has led to loss of
many lives over the past two decades, besides hitting hard the
region's economic mainstays of tea, timber and tourism.
On July 18 last year, a tripartite agreement was signed between
the GJM, and the state and central governments for setting up a
new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers
than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC)
formed in the late 1980s.
However, Giri said victory in GTA polls will not take GJM away
from the demand for a separate Gorkhaland.
"This victory doesn't mean that the demand for separate state of
Gorkhaland has died out. It was always there and it will remain.
The functioning of GTA will go along with this demand," Giri told
IANS over phone.