Controversy has gripped the newly-constituted Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) right from its initial days after it included nine invitee members to the GTA Sabha which is not permitted according to the GTA Act. However, surprisingly the state government being aware of this development has not yet taken any action against the move.
According to the GTA Act, the GTA Sabha comprises of 50 members, which includes 45 elected members and five nominated members. After assuming the office, the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), the ruling party in the GTA, included nine invitee members to the GTA Sabha on August 8. “It is illegal. It cannot be done. The GTA Act has no provision to include such invitee members,” a senior home department official fumed. On being asked whether the state government would take any step against this move, he, however, refused to comment, which indicates that the political functionaries of the ruling state government do not want to oppose it.
According to a senior leader of the Trinamul Congress, the state government will not take any step which will resume tension in Darjeeling Hills. “Normalcy has been restored in the hills after a long time and the state government will not take any step which will disrupt the normal life over there,” he said, suggesting that the Mamata Banerjee government has preferred to remain silent on this issue which is “illegal and unconstitutional”.
Though the GJM claimed that the posts of nine invitee members were symbolic only to show that the Dooars and Terai have representations in the GTA, an expert on Darjeeling matters said that this move suggested that the GJM and the Trinamul Congress have a “close understanding”. “The GJM is supporting the state government. On the other hand, the Trinamul Congress withdrew its candidates from most of the GTA constituencies in the recently concluded elections resulting which the GJM won all 45 seats there. Inclusion of the invitee members in the GTA without any opposition from the state government is an example that how the ruling party in the state and the ruling party in the GTA are closely associated,” he elaborated.
However, the GJM and the state government need to be aware that the Centre is a party to the GTA agreement and any action against the provisions of the GTA Act needs the Centre’s approval.