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GJM sweeps maiden GTA polls, not to give up Gorkhaland demand

Thursday August 02, 2012 06:48:52 PM, IANS

Darjeeling: 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.




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