Mamata plots poll trap for Gurung

The Telegraph

OUR BUREAU

Calcutta, Aug. 5: The Bengal government is considering elevating one of the members it nominated to the GTA Sabha — the administrative authority in the hills — to the post of chief executive, vacated by Gorkha Janmukti Morcha president Bimal Gurung.

The move, still at a preliminary stage, is part of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s strategy to tackle the unrest in the hills with strong administrative action.

As a first step, the state government will write to R.D. Meena, principal secretary to the GTA Sabha, seeking a detailed status report on the Sabha’s affairs following Gurung’s resignation.

“Meena will be given three days to send the report. The government would like to know whether anybody from within the existing set-up has taken up the vacant post of chief executive,” a Writers’ Buildings source said this evening.

“If nobody has stepped into Gurung’s shoes, then the government would like to pick one of the three members (Durga Kharel, Milan Dukpa and Satish Thing) it had nominated to the body last year,” he added.

The move could pave the way for fresh elections to the GTA Sabha, senior bureaucrats said. The government expects the 41 Morcha members of the 45-member Sabha would step down if it tries to replace Gurung, they said.

According to the rules, in case of a vacancy in the office of the chief executive by reason of resignation, a new chief executive will be elected at a Sabha meeting within a month of the occurrence of the vacancy. The election is to be conducted by the principal secretary.

The government is trying to use this rule — Rule 135 of the GTA Election Rules, 2012 — to pile pressure on Gurung.

Writers’ sources said the government was certain that once the notice for the election is issued, all the Morcha members of the Sabha would step down together.

“In that scenario, the government will have no problem in putting its own member at the helm of the Sabha, for the time being, before fresh election to the whole body is declared,” said a source.

Trinamul Congress sources said if fresh elections to the Sabha are held, it would participate. “During last year’s polls, we had given the Morcha a walkover, as a friendly gesture. That won’t be the case this time,” said a senior party leader.

That Mamata is not in a mood to go easy on Gurung was evident when she immediately accepted his resignation and did not attempt talks, said a home department official.

Instead of sending political representatives, the government is sending home secretary Basudeb Banerjee to the hills tomorrow. He is expected to take stock and facilitate the government’s plan of action

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