Why TMC’s success in Mirik is a remarkable achievement?

Why TMC’s success in Mirik is a remarkable achievement?

TMC supporters are celebrating their civic poll victory in Mirik
The ruling party of West Bengal has made a remarkable achievement, winning the civic poll of Mirik Notified Area Authority. While Trinamool Congress has made their hold in Mirik, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) has retained their power in other three municipalities in Darjeeling Hills (Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong).

There were 7 municipality elections conducted on 14thMay. TMC has made their strong position in 4 municipalities including Mirik. The ruling party has won in Raiganj, a municipality in North Dinajpur district by 24 seats. Murshidabad district’s Domkal with 18 seats and in South 24 Pargana’s Pujali by 16 seats. But their victory in Mirik is quite impressive to all.  

Mirik is a newly born subdivision of Darjeeling district and an important place of Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA). It has been believed that Gorkha Janmukti Morcha is the supreme power in Darjeeling Hills. Mirik was declared a subdivision on 30th March in 2017 by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. TMC’s success in Mirik is indicating a new turn in hills’ politics.

Since 1986, Darjeeling Hills are very much politically sensitive areas in West Bengal. From 1986 to 1988, the entire hill regions and some parts of Tarai and Dooars had been witnessed an aggressive Gorkhaland Movement led by Subhash Ghisingh, a leader of Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF). In this movement almost 1200 people lost their lives. To handle the situation, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council Agreement had been signed among the Central Government of India, West Bengal Government and GNLF at Raj Bhavan in Kolkata on 22nd August, 1988. That time CPI (M) leader Jyoti Basu was the Chief Minister of West Bengal.

Subhash Ghisingh, former leader of GNLF and former administrator of DGHC, who died in 2015

Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) was a semi- autonomous body, which looked after the administration of the hills in Darjeeling district. DGHC was administrated from 1988 to 2005 with three successive terms by GNLF under the leadership of Subhash Ghisingh. Interestingly, the fourth DGHC elections were due in 2005 and the Government of West Bengal made Ghisingh the sole administrator of DGHC instead of holding election. In the same year, Ghisingh signed a Memorandum of Settlement with the government to set up a Sixth Schedule tribal council called the Gorkha Hill Council in place of Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC).

Gorkhaland movement in 1986

After two years of this, in March 2008, Ghisingh was forced to resign by Bimal Gurung led Gorkha Janmukti Morcha. Since 2008, the Government of West Bengal appointed IAS officers as the administrator of DGHC and this situation continued till August 2012. This is to be noted that, during this period no election held in the council.

GJM President Bimal Gurung

In 2011, Mamata Banarjee led Trinamool Congress won the West Bengal State Assembly Election and hold the power of the state.  In the same year, Gorkha Janmukti Morcha signed a tripartite agreement with the state and central government on 18 July and formed Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) in Darjeeling Hills. Later, GTA replaced DGHC in August 2012, through a West Bengal State Act.

GJM President Bimal Gurung and Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banarjee

In 2012, West Bengal Government had been taken the initiative to conduct a GTA election. TMC filled 17 nominations where CPI (M) filled 13. Later, CPI (M) withdrew the nominations of all candidates; GNLF decided to boycott the election and GJM filled 45 nominations. In that election GJM won all the 45 seats of GTA.

After almost five years, TMC has been marked a strong hold in Mirik Notified Area Authority. The party has been won 6 seats out of 9 after a strong campaign by Siliguri Jalpaiguru Development Authority (SJDA) Chairman Sourav Chakraborty and other TMC candidates in Mirik.

SJDA Chairman Sourav Chakraborty after TMC’s victory over Civic Poll in Mirik

It has been a long time that Darjeeling hills had been ruled by some local powers like GNLF and GJM. But, no remarkable development had been made by them. Is TMC’s election victory over Mirik Notified Area Authority an indication of a massive change of people’s mind in Darjeeling Hills? Or they still believe that Gorkhaland is the only way to development? Now, the interesting thing to see is how Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee’s TMC will escalate their political power in state’s most politically sensitive areas, Darjeeling Hills.
Written by Ujjainee Chakraborty


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