Bimal Gurung’s public meeting in the Mirik Lake area yesterday was shifted to a nearby ground purportedly to ensure that tourists were not inconvenienced and soon after the rally, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leaders requested the chief minister not to use Chowrasta for her programmes.
The decision to shift the meeting to Allay ground was taken late in the evening yesterday and sources said the move could give hope to hill residents who had been expressing resentment over Chowrasta being used for political and government programmes.
A majority of Mamata’s rallies have been held at Chowrasta, the most famous promenade in Darjeeling. The Morcha and other parties have also held meetings there regularly.
Motor Stand and Chowk Bazar are the other popular venues of rallies and for the past couple of months, the Morcha has been holding its programmes at the Motor Stand.
Arun Sigchi, a GTA Sabha member from Soureni and the main organiser of Gurung’s meeting, yesterday told the press: “November is tourist season and the lake (Mirik Lake) is a major attraction. A huge gathering would have inconvenienced tourists and that is why we decided to change the venue.”
Alley ground is about half a kilometer from the lake.
Sigchi said Gurung was told about the change yesterday. “We told him about our concerns and he immediately agreed (to shift the venue).”
Mirik Lake, 40km from here, attracts hundreds of visitors daily in the peak season.
“We request Mamata Banerjee to stop using Chowrasta for political and administrative meetings. We are confident that she will respect the sanctity of the place,” said Sigchi on the phone.
Yesterday, at the meeting, Gurung said the Morcha could move court if only two tier rural polls were held this time. “We will win all the elections but in the GTA memorandum of agreement, it was agreed that three tier panchayat polls would be held. If the state goes ahead with the two tier election, we will go to court, High Court and also Supreme Court,” he said.
The last panchayat polls in the hills were held in 2000.
Gurung said the state wanted to change the nomenclature of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration. “They have started replacing Gorkhaland with Gorkha in official communication. But we will not allow that to happen,” he said adding that dharnas would be held in Delhi next month demanding statehood.
A Darjeeling resident said a meeting at Chowrasta blocked the entire area for tourists and local people. “Morning walkers, children who often take horse rides here and old people who like to just sit and relax cannot come if rallies are held. Pandals that are erected block the view of the hills and the place becomes congested. Several people do not want public events to be held here.”
According to Sigchi, the other reason for shifting the Mirik venue was to ensure that Morcha supporters did not go about visiting the lake. “There are a number of eateries around the lake and instead of attending the meeting, they could just go there. A small fair is also being held nearby.”
Told that the Morcha had also used Chowrasta for several meetings, Sigchi said: “Most of our meetings are now being held at the Motor Stand.”
[Via: Telegraph, Pics: Madan Bal Tamang]
1,547 total views, 1 views today