Siliguri, Dec 18 (IANS) Sweets were distributed and fireworks exploded after the West Bengal cabinet ratified a proposal to create a new district of Kalimpong by bifurcating Darjeeling on Friday.
Despite the north Bengal hills shivering in the cold, people came out on to the streets to celebrate in Kalimpong. The locals hugged each other, and exchanged sweets. Some of them smeared each other with gulal, while fireworks went up in the sky.
Local Trinamool spokesman Binni Sharma thanked Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying “the decision to carve out a Kalimpong district will bolster development of the hills”.
Kalimpong legislator Harka Bahadur Chhettri, who resigned from the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha some time back, welcomed the decision.
“We will bring out a big procession in Kalimpong on Sunday,” said Chhetri.
GJM assistant secretary Jyoti Prakash Rai said his party would orgnaise a victory celebrations once a notification was issued about the creation of the new district.
Another GJM assistant secretary Benoy Tamang said the his party has time and again raised the demand for making Kalimpong a new district.
However, Chhettri, perceived as close to West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress, pooh poohed the GJM claim. “When I had raised the demand earlier, the GJM criticised me. They said I have not been sent to the assembly to articulate the demand.”
Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) state secretariat member and Siliguri Mayor Asok Bhattacharya expressed “happiness” over the decision, but questioned the rationale for forming the new district.
“The moot point is whether the decision has been taken for the sake of development and administrative efficiency or guided solely by the approaching state assembly polls. The district will have only one assembly seat.”
Bharatiya Janata Party’s outgoing state president Rahul Sinha said “the more the number of districts, the better will be the administrative delivery system. But what is more important is the stae government’s approach should turn for the better”.
Earlier in the day, Banerjee announced that the cabinet has cleared the proposal to create a new Kalimpong district. Mirik, a block in Kurseong sub-division of Darjeeling district, has also been upgraded into a new sub-division.