Pradip made Sabha chief
Bimal Gurung, Pradeep Pradhan (left) and Lopsang Yolmo at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling on Friday to attend the first session of the GTA Sabha. Picture by Rabin Rai
Darjeeling, Aug. 3: Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung was today made the chief executive of the GTA, the highest post in the body, and party vice-president Bhupendra Pradhan was chosen the chairman of the GTA Sabha.
The GTA Sabha today held its first meeting at the Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan in Darjeeling, where members also elected Lopsang Yolmo, who represents Rongo-Today-Jaldhaka constituency, as the deputy chairman of the Sabha.
The chairman and deputy chairman of the GTA Sabha will conduct the business of the council.
After the meeting, Gurung said: “The house today elected Pradip Pradhan (the name by which Bhupendra Pradhan is commonly known) as the chairman of the Sabha and the Lopsang Yolmo as the vice-chairman.”
Of the 45 elected members, Dipen Mallay was absent from the meeting as he is in jail, and Champa Bivar, who is from the Sukna-Panighata seat, reached the venue after the session got over.
All five nominated members of the GTA Sabha, among them three chosen by the Trinamul Congress, were present at the meeting.
Sources present in the meeting said the additional district magistrate of Darjeeling, Gopal Lama, first welcomed the members after which Pradip Pradhan was nominated as the chairman to conduct the proceedings.
Then, the vice-chairman of the Sabha and the chief executive of the GTA were picked.
All the members will take oath at Chowrastha tomorrow. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee will be present at the swearing-in.
Governor M.K. Narayanan will administer the oath to the chief executive and then appoint the principal secretary in the home department to administer the oath to the other members. The swearing-in, which was to start from 11am tomorrow, has been advanced by half an hour as Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde has to return to Delhi for urgent work. Shinde arrived in Darjeeling today.
In a day or two, Gurung will nominate 14 executive members of the GTA, including a deputy chief executive.
It is not yet known where the permanent headquarters of the GTA will be.The GTA will temporarily function from Lal Khoti where the dissolved DGHC was headquartered.
“Since the GTA will have 45 elected and five nominated members, we are not sure about Lal Khoti area. We might have to look for other places to accommodate all the members and even this Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan looks good for an administrative building,” Gurung said.
The Memorandum of Agreement signed by the Centre, state and the Morcha has stated that a “one-time financial package” will be given to the GTA to develop administrative infrastructure.
The clause reads: “The Government of India/ State Government will provide one-time financial assistance required for development of administrative infrastructure viz., GTA Sabha House, Secretariat Complex and the residential quarters for the elected members of GTA and the senior officers.”
All images by Rabin Rai - click to enlarge
Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) president Bimal Gurung was elected the chief executive of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) while Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and chief minister Mamata Banerjee arrived in Darjeeling to attend the swearing-in ceremony of the newly-elected members of the GTA.
While Ms Banerjee and West Bengal governor M.K. Narayanan flew together from Kolkata in a routine flight to Bagdogra, the Union home minister came in a special plane before them.
After reaching Darjeeling in the evening, the chief minister held an informal meeting with Mr Shinde. This was her first meeting with the new Union home minister. On Thursday, Ms Banerjee had called up Mr Shinde and invited him to attend the swearing-in event. Although he had some important engagements in Maharashtra on Friday, he cancelled them and came to Darjeeling. Ms Banerjee’s invitation and Mr Shinde’s acceptance showed that both the Centre and the chief minister were keen to improve their relations which had strained over her initial refusal to back Pranab Mukherjee’s presidential candidature. Railway minister Mukul Roy also accompanied Ms Banerjee. “The tripartite GTA agreement was signed, then the bill was passed in the state Assembly and thereafter it received President of India’s assent. Then a high power committee headed by Justice (retired) Shyamal Sen ascertained the mouzas which would comprise the Darjeeling hills’ governing body. This was followed by delimitation exercise and finally the GTA elections. So much has happened in the past one year for this I want to congratulate my government officials, the GJM leaders and the people of Darjeeling,” an evidently upbeat Ms Banerjee said upon her arrival at Bagdogra.
In Darjeeling, the first meeting of the GTA board was held at the Ranga Manch Bhavan where the 45 elected members chose Mr Gurung as the head of the GTA. Pradip Pradhan was elected as the chairman. A 14-member board was also constituted with each member heading a particular department.
The tripartite agreement for GTA was signed in July 2011 in presence of then Union home minister P Chidambaram and Ms Banerjee. On Saturday, the new home minister, Mr Shinde would witness with her the swearing-in of newly-elected GTA members.