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Bengal Governor stresses Audit of Gorkhaland Council after Corruption Complaints

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar during a visit to meet Sitalkuchi violence victims in Cooch Behar.

West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankar during a visit to meet Sitalkuchi violence victims in Cooch Behar.

It was learnt that Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista and BJP MLA Neeraj Zimba have complained to the Governor about the corruption cases in the GTA

ComWest Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar stressed on Monday for a ‘special audit’ of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) after receiving reports of malpractices and corruption.

It was learnt that Darjeeling BJP MP Raju Bista and BJP MLA Neeraj Zimba had earlier complained to the Governor about rampant corruption cases in the GTA. They also alleged that there has been no elected representative in the GTA since 2017.

The GTA is an Autonomous District Council for the Darjeeling and Kalimpong areas of West Bengal.

Dhankar, after his weeklong stay in Darjeeling, told media persons in North Bengal, “I have received several complaints of malpractice and corruption in the GTA. As a Governor, I have the power (as per the Constitution), I would ensure full special audit of GTA accounts. It is surprising that there is no elected representative in the GTA and North Bengal lags behind as far as development is concerned.”

In a tweet, the governor said, “Several other organizations as well expressed concern at lack of grass root democracy #GTA area for two decades. Lack of audit breeds corruption and ignores governance transparency and accountability @MamataOfficial. Administrator #GTA directed to brief me on all issues.”

The ruling Trinamool Congress in the past had expressed concern over the role of Dhankhar and even termed Raj Bhavan as the BJP’s party office.

The standoff between Mamata Banerjee and Dhankhar once again intensified for the last few days after he alleged that the chief minister had been silent over post-poll violence in the state and had not taken steps to rehabilitate and compensate the victims.

He also wrote a letter to Banerjee hours before his departure to Delhi on June 15.

“I am constrained to observe your continued silence and inaction over post poll retributive bloodshed, violation of human rights, outrageous assault on dignity of women, wanton destruction of property, perpetuation of untold miseries on political opponents — worst since independence and it ill augurs for democracy,” Dhankhar letter to Mamata Banerjee reads.

The GTA was formed after years of agitation for a separate state of ‘Gorkhaland’ led by GJM in 2012 to replace the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, which was formed in 1988 and administered the Darjeeling hills for 23 years. The GTA presently consists of three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong, Mirik, some areas of Siliguri subdivision of Darjeeling district and the whole of Kalimpong district under its authority.

On July 18, 2011, the Memorandum of Agreement for GTA was signed at Pintail Village near Siliguri in the presence of then Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leader Bimal Gurung.

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first published:June 28, 2021, 13:51 IST