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The Motto is to Keep Hills Smiling, says TMC's RS Candidate Shanta Chhetri

Speaking to News18’s Sujit Nath, Shanta Chhetri recalled how it was never a smooth political journey so far, and her next course of action in the hills against the Morcha.

Sujit Nath | News18.com

Updated:May 22, 2017, 10:45 PM IST
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The Motto is to Keep Hills Smiling, says TMC's RS Candidate Shanta Chhetri
File photo of Shanta Chhetri, the TMC Rajya Sabha candidate from the Hills in West Bengal. (Photo Courtesy: Shanta Chhetri/ Facebook.com)

Kolkata: Shanta Chhetri – former Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) MLA and an active Trinamool Congress leader – is Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s surprise pick for the upcoming Rajya Sabha election. Shanta started her political career with the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) in 1994 when she was given the party ticket to contest municipal elections from Kurseong. In 2008, she was forced to leave Kurseong after Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) leaders allegedly attacked her house. On February 18, 2010, her house was set on fire by Morcha’s Students' wing. Speaking to News18’s Sujit Nath, Shanta Chhetri recalled how it was never a smooth political journey so far, and her next course of action in the hills against the Morcha.

Here are the Excerpts:

News18: Do you think Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee proposed your name for the Rajya Sabha because she is concerned over GJM-BJP rising popularity in the Hills?

Shanta Chhetri: This is not true. TMC is rising in the Hills and people are now realizing what a big mistake it was to support Gorkha Janamukti Morcha. Over the years, TMC has managed to set a firm base in the Hills and this was evident in the recent civic poll results. We won the Mirik municipality and in Kurseong, we won in two wards, while in Darjeeling, we managed to secure one. This shows that Mamata di is a jana netri (mass leader).

News18: Was it a situational decision for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to nominate you from the Hills? Do you think she is under pressure? Was it her desperate attempt to woo the people living in the Hills?

Shanta Chhetri: I don’t think she is under pressure. She knows her party workers well and I am happy that she trusted me. This is for the first time a political party has nominated someone from the Hills for the Parliament. I am honoured and I am bound to fulfill the challenges and responsibility which didi (Mamata) has entrusted me with. There is no need for Mamata di to woo the people of Hills because people here respect/love her a lot. People in the Hills consider her a mass leader. She is a leader for the poor and downtrodden. She is my inspiration and we are committed to fulfill her wish and command.

News18: What will be your challenges and priority in the Hills?

Shanta Chhetri: My challenges will be to expose Morcha’s corruption and priority will be education, health, basic amenities, employment, Trade, including tourism. I want people from the Hills to make a global presence through their hard work and I am always there to help them. Mamata di has already announced several developmental projects in the Hills. A branch of Presidency College will soon be operational here, besides other upcoming educational and professional institutes. There is a misconception that people are not happy here. People are very happy with the ruling government and now, no one can stop hills from smiling.

News18: Do you think GJM leaders are involved in corruption?

Shanta Chhetri: I don’t want to make any direct charges or allegations against anyone. But yes, all I want to ask Morcha leaders that what they have done with Rs 4,500 Crore (in last ten years) received from the central as well as from the state government for Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). I don’t see any development work in the Hills under GJM. Where has all the money gone? There should be some account and balance.

News18: You will be the face of Hills in the Parliament. How are you going to keep the expectation of people in the Hills a top priority?

Shanta Chettri: I don’t want to make big statement at this stage. People will see the changes under Mamata di soon. TMC is on a developmental path and the motto is to keep hills smiling.

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