Bimal camp seeks Darjeeling civic body control

The scene outside Darjeeling municipality after B.P. Bajgain’s arrest.
Thu, May 30, 2019

Our Correspondent
High drama unfolded at the Darjeeling municipality today after 17 ward councillors moved a no-confidence motion against the sitting municipality chairperson Pratibha Rai. The 17 councillor moved a resolution seeking a meeting for removal of the civic body chief even as vice chairman Sagar Tamang claimed a majority of the councillors supported them and some signatures in the resolution were forged.
The letter seeking removal of Rai came after the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) demanded resignation of the civic body members from the GJM-Binay faction saying they have lost the mandate after their party’s loss in the recent Lok Sabha and Darjeeling Assembly by-elections.
“We have moved vote of no-confidence today and have submitted a copy to our chairperson to hold a special meeting to discuss the matter of removal of her from the post. Out of 30 councillors, 17 have shown their mandate by signing the letter. There is one more councillor with us but is presently out of station. We are asking for reshuffling and removal of the chairperson as in the two recent elections it was understood that the leadership of Morcha’s Binay camp which runs municipality is has no hold here,” said Noman Rai the ward no 6 councillor who further added they were back with the Bimal camp and wanted to form
the board.
“We were with the Bimal camp earlier but in the middle due to a situation we were with the Binay camp but now the political scenario has changed and looking at the mandate
of the people we have taken such a decision. We have nothing against the chairperson,” he added. Ward no 4 councillor Mingur Yolmo also maintained that they were with the Bimal camp and hope more would join them.
There are presently 32 wards in the municipality here with the party being able to hold more than half the support will form the board.
Ward no 17 councillor Ram Jan Golay had resigned from his post citing health reasons in the year 2017 itself while on the other hand ward no 20 councillor Mani Pradhan expired. No elections have been held for these two wards.
After the municipality elections was held in 2017, the board could not function due to the 104 day agitation. Later, the Binay Tamang camp formed the board with Pratibha Rai made the chairperson and Sagar Tamang the vice chairman in January 2018. Under the Bimal camp, the municipality chairman till 2017 was D.K. Pradhan but he was removed from his post with 28 ward councillors moving a no-confidence vote against him.
Ward no 8 councillor Babita Ganguly said, “We understand that a meeting should be called but till the health of the chairperson is better we cannot call the meeting. It will be done after she gets well but we are in majority and they are only spreading rumors with false signatures and blank papers.”
Morcha (Binay camp) leader Alok Kantamani Thulung said, “They are maintaining that 17 councillors are with them but we came to learn that most of them were asked to sign blank papers even though they were sick while some of them are fake signatures. Moreover, we condemn the way that by bringing outside people a chair which is being headed by a lady had been pressurized with slogans being shouted. There is a process for all of this and it is not the chairperson the letter should be given to and even if they did it should have been done in a
proper way.”
On the other hand, the Morcha (Bimal camp) spokesperson B.P. Bajgain who was also present at the municipality premises said, “The step that they have taken today was after seeing where the public mandate was. They had also won from the Bimal camp and we accept them in our party and hope that they will work for the people. We also want to tell the chairperson that there is nothing personal against her and request others also that our doors are open if they
want to come.”
Bajgain was later picked up by the police from outside the Darjeeling Municipality after he along with other leaders and ward councillors had gone to hand over a letter to the chairperson there to call a special meeting for her removal from the post.
Police maintained that he had been detained in relation to some old cases pending against him without wanting to divulge anything further.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi