DARJEELING, Aug 4 (IANS): As the newly-elected members of the Gorkha Territorial Administration were sworn in Saturday, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured all kinds of support to the newly formed autonomous hill agency.
The Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) Thursday swept the polls to the newly created Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA), capturing all 45 seats in the Darjeeling hills governing council.
"I congratulate the members of newly formed GTA. I assure all of you that we will extend all kinds of support. We will give you Rs.200 crore every year for next three years. If more money is needed for development, we will give you," said Shinde at the swearing-in ceremony.
GJM supremo Bimal Gurung was sworn in as the chief executive of the GTA.
Shinde also assured the new administration that the youngsters of Darjeeling will get relaxations in physical norms laid down for recruitment to posts of constables in central police forces.
"We will help you in all possible ways," he said.
The long-standing agitation on the demand for forming a separate state out of the northern West Bengal hills has led to loss of many lives over the past two decades, besides hitting hard the region's economic mainstays of tea, timber and tourism.
On July 18 last year, a tripartite agreement was signed between the GJM, and the state and central governments for setting up a new autonomous, elected GTA, a hill council armed with more powers than its predecessor, the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council (DGHC) formed in the late 1980s.
"You should work hard for the development of hills, the state government is there always with you. We will build a university here in Darjeeling, the hospital will also be renovated here," said Banerjee.
She asked Gurung to ensure jobs in the GTA for the family members of the martyrs of the Indian Army.
"Whatever you have to ask from me you can, but please don't quarrel. We will all stay together like one family," she said.
The process of elections to the 45 GTA seats, held July 29, came to an end Thursday with GJM emerging victorious.
The GJM had already won a majority even before the elections took place by bagging 28 seats uncontested, after candidates of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) and Independents withdrew from the fray, accusing the GJM of letting loose a reign of terror.
The Trinamool Congress, which initially decided to contest 17 seats, also pulled out after party supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee so decided.