Shifting political sands in foothillshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/kolkata/shifting-political-sands-in-foothills/

Shifting political sands in foothills

* Lakra’s tribal outfit snaps ties with GJM after latter joins hands with Barla faction

The Terai-Dooars Adivasi Vikash Parishad (TDAVP),which had allied with Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) during the Assembly election held earlier this year,has severed its ties with the GJM citing the latter’s attempt to include 400 mouzas of Terai and Dooars into the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA).

Now,the outfit is planning to mobilise a strong anti-GJM campaign in the Terai and Dooars region. The breaking away of the two allies comes close to the heels of the GJM roping in another faction of tribals in the area led by Jhon Burla.

Rajesh Lakra of TDAVP acknowledged the rift between the two election allies. “We are now no way linked with GJM,and we will not support those tribal leaders who will sell our land to the GJM. During election we had an alliance with GJM. But now,we are clear about the intention of GJM and how they want to capture our land,” Lakra said.

Making his reservation to GJM’s growing affinity with the Jhon Burla-led faction of Adivasi Vikash Parishad clear,Lakra said: “In the agreement with Jhon Barla,GJM has mentioned that it would consider the possibility of forming an Adivasi Territorial Administration (ATA) on the lines of GTA after 400 mouzas of Terai and Dooars is included in GTA. We are sure that after the land will go to them,they will never give us autonomy. And at present,GJM leaders are trying to lure Adivasi leaders and youths.”

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In making his intention clear that he and his outfit would take on the GJM head on,Lakra has booked the same venue at Nagrakata in Jalpaiguri where the GJM and Jhon Barla faction of Adivasi Vikash Parishad were supposed to hold a joint rally on November 15.

“We had information that the GJM and Jhon Barla faction are going to hold a joint rally at Nagrakata on November 15. But on that day we celebrate the birth anniversary of our leader Birsa Munda. So,we have booked the ground and tribal population will celebrate the day by organising cultural events,” added Lakra.

Barla denied to comment on the issue. “We have decided to hold a joint meeting at Nagrakata. But the meeting has been cancelled for some reasons. I will not say anything on this.”

However Barla’s associate Tejkumar Toppo,said that they had to cancel the meeting after “the ground was taken over by another group”. “It is a politically motivated act,” Toppo said.

At present,Barla and five other senior leaders of Adivasi Vikash Parishad have been issued showcause notices by the outfit for signing an agreement with the GJM.

Lakra,who was a senior leader of Akhil Bharatiya Adivasi Vikash Parishad quit the party in 2010 over the Gorkhaland issue. While his outfit was against the GJM’s demand of inclusion of Dooars area in the Gorkhaland map,Lakra differed from his party’s position. So when he decided to contest from Nagrakata,the GJM came forward to help him. He bagged 20,778 votes and came last. The seat was won by Joseph Munda of the Congress.

After Barla joined hands with the GJM,Lakra’s outfit TDAVP held a protest rally in the Dooars on November 10. Now,it is also planning to hold village-level camps across Dooars to “free a section of the adivasi youths who have succumbed to the GJM clutch”.

“GJM activists have been luring youths from different parts of Dooars with false assurances. By holding camps at every village/tea garden,we would try and let them know the sinister design of the GJM and the negative consequences of supporting it,” said Lakra.