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Thursday, June 3, 2010

DHR union protests plains office.. Mamata rompsinto final

Agitation decision after june 4 
Darjeeling, June 2: Employees of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway have threatened to start an agitation over the Northeast Frontier Railway’s reported move to open a camp office for the toy train in Siliguri. 
 The authorities, however, said such DHR offices already existed in the plains.
The DHR is supposed to function from the Elysia Building in Kurseong which was its headquarters before 1948. It was renovated for about Rs 80 lakh in 2006 to house the director’s office. But till date the office is not fully functional.
“It has come to the notice of our union that plans have been mooted for opening a camp office of the DHR in Siliguri. The opening of the office will lead to a situation where the Elysia Building, which was envisaged to be the DHR headquarters, will become redundant and will be permanently reduced to a museum,” said Anand Rai, the Kurseong branch secretary of the Intuc-affiliated NF Railway Employees’ Union.
The railways’ decision to revive the Elysia Buildling was aimed to provide greater autonomy to the DHR in recognition of its World Heritage status. In 1999, the Unesco had accorded the status to the toy train, making the DHR the first railway system in India to be awarded such a status.
Even though the railways’ long-term plan was to go in for structural changes and to create a separate unit for the DHR, an “adapted management plan” for the toy train had been mooted in 2005-06 to be supervised through the Katihar division.
According to the plan, a senior manager was to be placed in Kurseong, who would be supported by a mechanical and a civil engineer.
The arrangement was aimed at providing more autonomy at the local level. Later, the railways made a change in its plan and instead decided to appoint a director for the DHR.
The employees’ union has sought an appointment with the DHR authorities on June 4. “If a solution is not arrived at during that meeting, we will decide on our next course of agitation, which could even mean complete closure of the DHR offices,” a source in the union said.
The union members have managed to whip up emotion in the hills. “We cannot tolerate such a retrograde step, which is anti-hills and stands in violation of the original plan. We request the officials not to take any step which may ignite the regional passion in an already volatile situation in the hills,” said Rai.
P.P. Roy, the DHR director, said over the phone from Dehra Dun: “This is nothing new. There are offices of the DHR already in Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri. I also have my office at the Elysia Building. Since there are frequent strikes in the hills, a situation in which the entire DHR comes to a halt cannot be allowed. This is why there are offices in the plains.”  
KalimNews: All frontal organisations and branch and other committees under GJMM consented for the change of the name of the proposed state from Gorkhaland to Gorkha Adivasi Pradesh. As informed by a GJMM source , in a joint meeting called by the central committee with the representatives of hills ans dooars the name was approved without any objection. 
45 families of chongtong area left CPRM and joined GJMM.
Mamata romps into 'final'
KOLKATA, 2 JUNE: Battered and bruised by the main Opposition in two successive elections, first panchayat and then Lok Sabha, the Left Front conceded a hat-trick of defeats by losing the elections to 81 civic bodies hands down to the Trinamul Congress today.
Miss Mamata Banerjee romped home on the “paribartan (change)” wave in what has been dubbed as a “semi-final” ahead of next year's Assembly election. The Trinamul not only routed the Left in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) and the Bidhannagar Municipality, it retained its dominance in all districts of south Bengal and made serious inroads in the so-called Left citadels of Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia and Midnapore West.
The Trinamul Congress, in its march to a final showdown with the Left Front in 2011, also humbled UPA Big Brother ~ the Congress ~ by comprehensively outperforming it. Miss Banerjee’s thumping win would now seriously hamper any attempts at arm-twisting by the Congress to ensure a favourable seat-sharing arrangement for itself in the 2011 Assembly poll; if at all, after today's result, the alliance is renegotiated.
For the record, the Trinamul emerged the clear victor in 26 out of the 81 municipalities, with the Left retaining power in only 17 civic bodies of the 54 it held. The Congress bagged seven. The remaining municipalities would now require a post-poll alliance or arrangement for the formation of a board, and intense negotiations have already begun. But a deal between the two Opposition parties would see them take control of another 24 municipalities (see graphic).
In the KMC, the Trinamul secured a two-third majority bagging 95 out of the 141 wards, leaving the Left Front with a meagre 33, which is less than half of what it had secured in the 2005 election. The Congress' tally also went down by five and it just managed to reach the double-digit mark with Mr Pradip Ghosh losing from Ward 51. The BJP won in three wards like last time. The only spoiler for the Trinamul in the KMC verdict was the defeat of party heavyweight Mr Javed Khan, who lost by a slender margin of 71 votes.
The Trinamul also halted the Left's march to a third successive term in Bidhannagar Municipality by clinching the board with a margin of 16 to nine and left the LF red-faced by defeating its candidate from Subhas Chakraborty's ward as well.
The results in the districts of south Bengal opened up more wounds for the Left with the LF conceding defeat to the Trinamul in South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas, Hooghly, Nadia, Midnapore East and Birbhum. The lone red dot amidst a sea of green was Bally Municipality in Howrah.
Even in the Left citadels of Burdwan, Bankura, Purulia and Midnapore West, the Trinamul put a serious question mark over the Left’s dominance by winning many municipalities where the Opposition had always been weak. Some of the municipalities the Trinamul won in these districts include Bishnupur, Purulia, Ghatal, Kharar and Ramjibanpur.
The Left seemed to have retained its grip somewhat in north Bengal, winning the Tufanganj and Dinhata municipalities in Cooch Behar and Old Malda.
In Murshidabad, the spoils were shared by the Left and the Congress, with both parties bagging three municipalities each. The Congress also won two municipalities in Nadia and one in Burdwan. The Left bagged the Gayeshpur municipality in Nadia, Halisahar and North Dum Dum in North 24-Parganas, Arambag in Hooghly, Chandrakona and Khirpai in Midnapore West, Ranigunj and Jamuria municipalities in Burdwan, and Jhalda in Purulia among others.
Burying all exit poll figures, the Trinamul Congress at the end of it all, not only punctured gaping holes in the Left Front campaign, but also left the Congress looking for cover. The “semifinal” was well and truly a one-sided affair.

DNA, Kolkata: Railway minister Mamata Banerjee’s emphatic showing in the West Bengal civic polls has cut to size the Congress, the senior partner in the ruling United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre, besides sending a clear warning note to the CPI(M) in the state. 
Consider the immediate fall-out. Dilly-dallying on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Gyaneshwari Express mishap so far, the Centre ordered an inquiry by the agency soon after the civic poll results trickled in. Mamata had been insisting on a CBI probe into the rail disaster while the West Bengal government was opposed to it.
Although senior home ministry officials denied that the decision had anything to do with the election results, the political logic is obvious. “We do not need the state government’s concurrence as central ministries have jurisdiction over the CBI,” an official said.
At the political level, a chastened Congress reiterated that an alliance with the Trinamool Congress was always on for the Bengal assembly elections. The party, which contested the civic polls alone, ended up badly bruised. Of 81 civic bodies, the TC bagged 33, the Congress 7 and the Left Front the Left 18 till last reports.
“We have been fighting the CPI(M) in that state for 30 years, and we shall always combine with Trinamool to defeat the Leftists,” said Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmed. Senior Union minister Pranab Mukherjee was among the first to congratulate Mamata on her strong performance.
The elections have established beyond doubt that the Congress may be a bigger force elsewhere, but in West Bengal the TC is firmly in the driver’s seat. TC leader Saugata Roy said: “We were ready to give them 25 seats in the Kolkata municipality but they wanted more. Now they are just touching double figures. The Congress should see the results and decide on the future of the alliance.”
Banerjee, on her part, chose to be magnanimous in victory, playing down any differences with the Congress. “I have faith in the Congress leadership. I want to keep up relations with the UPA government,” Banerjee said in Kolkata.
The voluble Union railway minister said she favoured a mahajot (bigger alliance). “I can’t say anything about tomorrow. I am not a political astrologer. I am always open for alliance. I am in favour of a mahajot. Let us see what happens,” she said.
The impact of the election results was clearly visible even on the CPM. Even as the home ministry officials were clearing the proposal for the CBI probe that will be notified on Thursday, there was a phone call from a senior West Bengal government official offering full cooperation in the probe.

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