Priya blames govt for ‘immature handling’ of Darjeeling situation

KOLKATA, May 4: The Union information and broadcasting minister, Mr Priya Ranjan Das Munshi today squarely blamed the state government for its ‘immature and improper’ handling of the situation in Darjeeling. He also questioned the wisdom of the state urban development minister, Mr Asok Bhattacharya’s advice to tourists not to visit the hills in view of the escalating tension there. “The situation in Darjeeling is very sensitive. The state government’s handling of the situation was very improper and immature,” Mr Das Munshi told reporters. “No tourists complained about harassment by the agitating Gorkha Jana Mukti Morcha activists. The people of Darjeeling are very hospitable to tourists and tourism is their bread and butter. “The untimely advice by the state minister suggesting tourists not to visit Darjeeling will not only tarnish the state’s image, but also have an impact on the overall tourism prospect of the country,” he said.The minister said that the state government has made a mistake by not intervening when agitators prevented Mr Subhas Ghising, who was the caretaker administrator of DGHC, from entering the hills. He also said the state government had failed to read the situation of the hills when a tripartite memorandum of agreement was signed by the Union home ministry, the state government and the then chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) Mr Ghising on the proposed constitutional amendment to bring DGHC under the Sixth Schedule. However, Mr Das Munshi said the Centre would extend support to the chief minister so that impasse could be resolved amicably. “Delhi cannot move an inch without taking the state government into confidence to resolve this sensitive issue,” he said.The state government, Mr Das Munshi charged, had failed to read the situation of the hills when a tripartite memorandum of agreement was signed by the Union home ministry, the state government and the then chairman of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) Mr Subhas Ghising on the proposed constitutional amendment to bring DGHC under the Sixth Schedule. “I had taken all possible measures and was ready to pass the Bill with two-thirds majority in the Parliament,” Mr Das Munshi said. “But the day before the Bill was to be placed in the House I received a message that it may be referred to the Standing Committee so that other views could be heard,”the Union minister said. (The Statesman)

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