Back from ‘exile’, Ghising stakes claim in Gorkha talks
Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on April 11, 2011
Darjeeling: GNLF chief Subash Ghising’s return to Darjeeling after three years of forced exile and his attempts at seeking a political rehabilitation seems to have set in motion new equations in the hills. Having released his election manifesto at his very first public meeting in three years the GNLF chief has staked his claim to be a party in the ongoing talks for a negotiated settlement of Darjeeling problem and the setting up of an interim Gorkha Hill Council. So far, the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) has been the sole bargaining authority in these talks.
Talking to The Indian Express, Ghising disclosed that he has already written to Sonia Gandhi for inclusion of the GNLF as a party to the talks and for setting up of an interim Gorkha Hill Council after the polls. He said, “At present, the Central and state governments are talking to groups and people from Darjeeling who do not understand what an interim council is all about. The GNLF should be made a party to the talks. The GNLF will work actively to have the New Gorkha Hill Council Bill passed in Parliament that was passed in the West Bengal Assembly in 2005.”
While asked about the interim council, Ghising said, “We want an interim council. Earlier, we were given an interim administrator. We never wanted a bureaucratic set-up. We want autonomy. The earlier drafting of the proposed council was completely wrong. I am here to correct that blunder.” The New Gorkha Hill Council, as proposed by him will have 45 sections. “If we have legislative power we would not need legislation in the Bengal Assembly,” he added.
If Ghising’s speeches are any indication, he is keeping the demand for a separate state under the wraps for tactical reasons. “Gorkhaland is our ‘Brahmastra’ that can be used once and for all. But at present monkeys are also using this ‘Brahmastra’,” said Ghising, ridiculing the GJM, led by Bimal Gurung. He reminded that ‘Gorkhaland’ was coined by him.
Ghising’s public posturing has so far evoked mixed response, with one section terming it as the return of “Son God” of the hills while the other describing him as a spent force. According to some, in the interior villages and particularly among hill tribes such as Tamangs, Lepchas and Bhutias, Ghising still claims a fair amount of popularity. His old lieutenants have joined Ghising, including Tshering Sherpa who had joined All Bengal Gorkha League earlier. There are other who are sitting on the fence and may join him soon.
For the moment Ghising seems to be targeting the hill tribes to regain his lost grounds. This was largely explained by his announcement that the GNLF wanted the New Gorkha Hill Council to give proper recognition to hill tribes. “They should not be categorised as scheduled caste and scheduled tribes but should be given a new status and identity under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution,” said Ghising.
Reacting to the public meeting of the GNLF, Roshan Giri, the general secretary of GJM, said, “We have been hearing for months that Ghising will come to Darjeeling, but he never dared to do so. This time he might have come here for campaigning, but we are sure that he will run away again, as the people of the hills will not accept him.”
However, Ghising seems to have other plans. He said: “The people here have developed “rust” just as the khukris (Nepali daggers) due to non-use. That’s the reason I am here and will not leave under any circumstances.’