Vivek Chhetri, TT, Darjeeling, Aug. 25: The GTA Sabha chairman, Bhupendra Pradhan, who had joined Trinamul yesterday, said today that he had been directed by Mamata Banerjee not to resign as the member and the head of the hill body and he would have to obey her.
Although the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha can easily remove Bhupendra, more commonly known as Pradip, as the chairman of the GTA Sabha through a simple majority, the party fears it won’t be able to disqualify him as the member as the GTA Act empowers the state government to take such an action.
The elected GTA Sabha members have already requested the vice-chairman of the GTA Sabha, Lopsong Yolmo, to convene a meeting where a resolution is expected to be passed to remove Pradip as the chairman. The meeting has been fixed at 3pm at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan here tomorrow.
Speaking over the phone, Pradhan told The Telegraph today: “I told the CM that once I left the party, I would have to resign from all posts. I was told that there was no need to resign, not even from the party. She said: ‘Once you accept the flag in public, you will come to TMC, they (Morcha) will automatically cancel your membership (from the party), don’t leave the chairman’s post, not even as Sabhasad (GTA Sabha member). Let us see what they will do.’ Naturally, the CM is my leader now, I will have to obey her.”
He is expected to be removed as the chairman of the GTA Sabha tomorrow, as the GTA Act states that a resolution adopted by a simple majority of elected members is needed for it. All 45 elected GTA Sabha members belong to the Morcha.
However, the Morcha might hit a hurdle when it comes to cancelling Pradhan’s GTA Sabha membership as the state government has its say on the matter.
Under Section 19 of the GTA Act, a party’s general secretary will have to submit a petition demanding the removal of a member to a “prescribed authority” appointed by the state government for his defection. Section 19 (1) of the GTA Act states: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained elsewhere in this Act, the prescribed authority for the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha, may, subject to other provisions of this section, declare, for reasons in writing, a Member to be disqualified for being a Member.”
The Act reads: “Prescribed Authority in the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabha shall mean an Authority appointed by the State Government by notifications published in the Official Gazette for the purpose of this section.”
Morcha sources admit in private that unless the state government appoints a prescribed authority soon, Pradhan’s disqualification could be delayed. In the Act, there is no time frame set for the government to appoint the authority.
Even after the prescribed authority gives the decision, there is a provision to appeal to another “authority” which will also be appointed by the state government.
When told that Pradhan was in no mood to vacate his GTA Sabha seat, Morcha general secretary Roshan Giri said: “The GTA Act must be respected and everyone has to follow the law of the land. If the need arises. we will also go to court.”