Democratic Front in Darjeeling formed, support CBI probe in Madan Tamang case

In early 2000, the All India Gorkha League(AIGL), the Communist Party Revolutionary Marxist(CPRM) and a few other parties in the hills of  Darjeeling had come together to form under the leadership of Madan Tamang the People’s Democratic Front(PDF) against the highhandedness of the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF).

The PDF did not last long, but the wheels have turned full circle and again, with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha(GJM) cornered in the wake of the CBI filing its final charge-sheet against top GJM leaders in the Madan Tamang murder case, five opposition parties in the hills have been quick to react and form a Democratic Front(DF) with the sole aim of restoration of democracy in the hills.

The constituents of DF are Madan Tamang’s own party All India Gorkha League (AIGL), Communist Party of Revolutionary Marxist (CPRM), Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF), CPM and the Sikkim Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch (SDEM).

AIGL general secretary Pratap Khati who was appointed convener of the newly formed outfit on Tuesday after a meeting said: “After Madan Tamang’s murder and looking at the current political situation of the hills, we felt the need to retrospect on ways to move ahead. Keeping this in mind, our priority unanimously is restoration of democracy. Therefore we formed the Front, today”.
Elaborating on the issue in hand, CPRM president R.B.Rai said time was right to form such an organization that would work towards bringing back democracy in the Hills. “The AIGL leader was murdered five years ago. But things are hotting up now with the CBI charge -sheet against GJM leaders. Democracy does not imply only to the AIGL but has implications for others too,” he explained.

Democratic Front poster in Darjeeling
Democratic Front poster in Darjeeling

On the question of forming a platform only for restoring democracy and not other political agenda, the CPRM leader said, “There are various demands of different political entities of the Hills. However, what is the use of other things, when something as basic as democracy is
missing”. Rai appealed to people to extend support to the newly formed Front. “At present politics in the hills is not free and fair and there is an underlying fear among people about their security. People should come out and support our endeavour,” he said.

The Front has not yet chalked out its strategies but said they would first start by meeting Bengal Governor Kesharinath Tripathi, who is presently in Darjeeling, putting up posters in the Hill town propagating their demand and even writing to both the state government and the Centre. “We will meet the Governor and apprise him about our objective of forming the Front and also about the CBI charge-sheet. There is sufficient evidence against the GJM leaders in our leader’s murder,” Khati said.

Mani Kamal Chhetri, the GNLF Darjeeling branch secretary said his party decided to join hand to strongly support the CBI initiatives.

The Front had also invited the Trinamool Congress, BJP and the Congress but their representatives did not attend Tuesday’s meeting.

Darjeeling district Trinamool president  Rajen Mukhia, when asked to confirm the invitation said his party would not join the Front but only extend moral support. “We will not join but extend moral support. As for the CBI charge sheet against the GJM leaders, we feel that if
proved guilty they should be arrested,” he said.

Later in the day GJM assistant secretary Binay Tamang issued a statement to counter the Democratic Front. “If the Front had been formed for a separate Gorkhaland state then we would have welcomed it. It is only a gimmick of the various inactive political parties for its survival in the Hills,” reads Tamang’s statement.

On the democracy claim, the GJM assistant reminded the Front that their member parties had failed to take a stand during the 22 years of GNLF misrule and anarchy when, unlike in the present situation, the voices of dissent had been curtailed.

Source: EOI

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