West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is on a five-day visit to North Bengal, called for polls to establish a new Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) body in the Hills.
“I want the GTA polls to be held in May-June,” the CM said, adding, “There are two-tier rural bodies existing (gram panchayat and panchayat samiti) in the Hills. We have requested the Centre to implement the three-tier rural body system, so that we can hold the three-tier rural body polls in the Hills. Only Roshan Giri of GJM’s Bimal Gurung faction said they will give suggestion, while others are willing to hold the elections. Hamro Party’s Ajoy Edwards also said they will support this. They want peace and prosperity. Now, Darjeeling is full of tourists.”
Banerjee interacted with locals in Darjeeling on Monday and was also seen cuddling a toddler. She was also seen helping an old woman walking down the road .
Her visit to North Bengal is significant, as the CM on Monday held meetings with representatives of Gorkha Janmukti Morcha and Bharatiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha.
Prajatantrik Party’s Harka Bahadur wants election, but the GJM Bimal Gurung and BJP does not want elections, she said.
Giri said, “We want a permanent solution. We are not supporting the BJP.”
In 1988, after the formation of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, Darjeeling Hills got a two-tier panchayat system. The Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad was created on the lines of zilla parishad for rural areas of Siliguri subdivision and kept out of the control of DGHC. In the Darjeeling Hills, the last panchayat election was held in 2000.
Following Trinamool’s landslide victory in the civic polls in North Bengal, Banerjee had assured the people of Siliguri that she would return to the region, as winning the Siliguri Mahakuma Parishad elections is her next target.
On Sunday, Banerjee attended a programme in Siliguri, where she spoke about the social welfare schemes of her government. The chief minister will visit Uttarkanya on March 31 before leaving for Kolkata the next day.