Bimal Gurung to be GTA’s first chief executive

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Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) chief Bimal Gurung will head the newly formed Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) as its chief executive — equivalent to a Cabinet rank — while Pradip Pradhan, a GJM vice-president from Kurseong, will hold the post of GTA chairman (equivalent to the Speaker's post in the Assembly).

The announcements come a day ahead of the GTA swearing-in ceremony after he held the first meeting with 45 board members today.

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today arrived in Darjeeling for the swearing-in.

Shinde, after a meeting with Mamata and GJM leaders in the evening, said: "This is my first major attendance after assuming the charge of home ministry. I welcome the formation of the GTA. I congratulate Bimal Gurung for winning the polls. I also thank Mamata Banerjee for her sustained efforts to restore peace in the hills."

There was jubilation in the air in Darjeeling town with Gorkha youths in bright dresses greeting each other as they prepared to witness the swearing-in. GJM flags were seen flying atop shops, houses and other establishments.

Thanking the people of the hills for victory in the polls, Gurung said: "We are going to have 54 departments with 14 executive members who will hold the charge of different departments. We will start development works without wasting time as the people of the hills have waited for long. We want our new office of GTA to be shifted from the place where the office of the failed DGHC ( Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council) is located. The air in the area appears to be polluted."

Interestingly, some senior GTA leaders and members of the outfit's study forum who had prepared the GTA draft agreement and reports on the mouzas in Terai and Dooars to be included in the GTA, have been given the cold shoulder.

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