Gurung, Mamata meet today

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(From Telegraph) Darjeeling, June 27: All eyes are focused on the meeting between Mamata Banerjee and Bimal Gurung at Writers’ Buildings in Calcutta tomorrow as the talks are expected to pave the way for smooth elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), ushering in peace in the region after four years of agitation.

The Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president’s meeting with Mamata Banerjee will happen at a time when consensus seems to be building in the hill party in favour of contesting the GTA elections.

Senior Morcha leaders such as Roshan Giri and Harka Bahadur Chhetri have already brought around party functionaries and workers in the plains who were against contesting the elections.

In Calcutta, Mamata said today that she would meet the Morcha delegation at Writers’ Buildings tomorrow. “They (Morcha) had sought an appointment for Friday or Saturday, but I don’t have time on either day. So they were told to meet me tomorrow. Gurung and the others will come at 2pm,” Mamata said on her way out of Writers’ this evening. Asked about the possibility of the Morcha’s participation in the polls, Mamata said: “That is their business. They’d know what they are going to do.”

Gurung, observers believe, is now only looking for an assurance from the chief minister that the three-member fact-finding committee constituted to look into the Morcha’s grievances against the Justice Shyamal Sen report is not merely an eyewash. An air of uncertainty has shrouded the Darjeeling hills since Justice Sen recommended the inclusion of only five mouzas — not the Morcha’s demand of 396 mouzas — in the GTA area. Rohit Sharma, the Kurseong MLA and a member of the delegation that met Union ministers P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee in New Delhi yesterday, said: “We are leaving for Calcutta tomorrow (Thursday). We will meet the chief minister at 2pm tomorrow.”

Asked about the agenda, Sharma said: “The agenda is well known…. We are not happy with Justice Sen’s recommendations. More important, our party president will be meeting the chief minister personally. He would be hearing whatever the chief minister has to say on his own.”

Gurung had preferred to stay away from most of the negotiations the party had held with central and state governments. The Morcha chief had last met Mamata on March 24 and tomorrow’s talks are being held at his insistence.

Before leaving for Delhi, Gurung had said in Darjeeling that he wanted to “personally” hear the views of the Union ministers and the chief minister before deciding whether the Morcha should participate in the GTA elections scheduled for July 29.Chidambaram yesterday requested the Morcha to contest the polls and take its grievances before the appropriate authorities later.

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