Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said her government would provide a ‘permanent political solution’ to the Hills within the state, even as she sought a concrete plan for the same from some Hill leaders, and cooperation of the Hill people.
Miss Banerjee, who held an administrative meeting in Kurseong town for Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, further told Hill leaders to present there (mainly from the Bhartiya Gorkha Prajatantrik Morcha and Gorkha Jan Mukti
Morcha) that they should submit a proposal for the PPS to the state government, as to what the leaders wanted as PPS, by the first week of December.
The chief minister, who was accorded a warm welcome in Kurseong, also said that the state government would hold elections to the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) after the fresh electoral rolls are prepared.
As the leader of the GJMM Roshan Giri put across the panchayat election issue, Miss Banerjee said that it was a matter of three-tier local body polls and that the same needed a constitutional amendment, but that she would consider the matter. Panchayat elections have not been held in the Hills for the past two decades.
Stating that her government was emphasizing development in the Hills, Miss Banerjee, who visited the Hills for the first time after coming to power in the state for the third time in May, talked about providing employment to local youths by creating various eco-friendly industries, or through tourism-oriented industries and schemes.
“The problem of unemployment and problems facing the tourism sector can be resolved by using various resources like forests, tea gardens and cinchona plantations and other natural resources in the Hills,” the CM said.
In the meeting, Mr Giri, along with BGPM leader Anit Thapa demanded a separate staff selection board for GTA for the appointment of teachers and various government jobs under the GTA Act.
The leaders, including BGPM leader Amar Singh Rai, further talked about other problems and issues, including the problem of unemployment in the Hills. Miss Banerjee also took a swipe at the BJP, which, she said was dividing the Hill people and making false promises despite winning the Lok Sabha seat in Darjeeling since 2009.
“I am ready to help you so that your sons and daughters stand on their own feet in future. People do not visit here as the area witnesses destruction every 10 years. I want peace and development in the hills,” Miss Banerjee said.
In the meeting, the CM also called out Mr Giri and Mr Thapa’s names and asked them to work together for the development of the Hills. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Giri said they were ready to work with Thapa for the development of the Hills. Mr Thapa too said that he was ready to work with the GJMM only to formulate a plan for the PPS.