Darjeeling, June 30: The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) Saturday decided to take part in the July 29 Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) polls, leading to a “happy” West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee hoping that peace and development will bring new era in the area.
The GJM decided to participate in the GTA polls at its core committee meeting here in this northern Bengal hill resort.
“We will contest all the 45 seats of the GTA. Our president Bimal Gurung will finalise the candidates,” GJM general secretary Roshan Giri told reporters.
Gurung has also been requested to be a candidate in the polls, but he has sought time to decide.
Banerjee welcomed the decision.
“Today is a very happy day for all of us, as my brothers and sisters of Darjeeling have decided to participate in the democratic process of election next month. Truly Darjeeling is now smiling. Peace, development and Prosperity will bring new era in Darjeeling. On this happy occasion I congratulate all my brothers and sisters of Darjeeling,” Banerjee posted on her Facebook page.
North Bengal Affairs Minister Gautam Deb also welcomed the GJM’s decision.
Nominations for the polls to the GTA – the proposed new development agency in the northern hills of West Bengal – can be filed till July 9, according to a state government notification.
The three picturesque Darjeeling hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseyong and Kalimpong have been on the boil for nearly three decades due to anti-government protests over the Gorkhaland demand. The hills had witnessed killings, police crackdowns and long shutdowns which severely impacted the hills’ economic mainstays – 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.
The state government has decided to form a three-member fact verification panel to look into the recommendations of a high-powered committee on the issue of area demarcation in the proposed GTA.