With supplies drying up and the indefinite strike in the Darjeeling hills entering its 27th day today, all eyes are set on the all-party meeting scheduled to be held today in Mirik area of the hills.The all-party meeting, convened by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM), will be attended by all political parties of the hills. The meeting was scheduled to be held on July 18 but was advanced to July 11 following the violence in the hills on Saturday.Many hill parties are in favour of relaxing the shutdown for few days as the supplies of food and essentials have dried up due to the indefinite strike, Jan Andolan Party (JAP) sources said. A section of hill parties want the GJM to sit for the tripartite talks.This is the fourth such meeting in 27 days. The first, second and the third all-party meetings were held on June 20, June 29, and July 6 respectively. The GJM took out huge rally in Mirik demanding Gorkhaland. Incidentally, GJM had lost Mirik municipality to TMC in the last municipal polls held in May. Police and security forces patrolled the streets and kept a vigil on the entry and exit routes.While Internet services remained snapped for the last 24 days, all shops barring pharmacies, schools and colleges remained closed. An Army column, comprising of around 50 personnel, was deployed in Kalimpong last night, defence sources said.Two columns of the Army have already been positioned in Darjeeling and Sonada on Saturday due to extensive arson and violence.
Congress leaders visited Lalu Prasad to express their solidarity on Saturday, a day after the ten-hour-long CBI raid at 10 Circular Road, where the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief lives with his wife and two Minister sons. The Congress party is RJD’s alliance partner.But RJD’s bigger partner, the Janata Dal-United (JD-U), maintained its distance, with party chief and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar continuing to remain at Rajgir in Nalanda district, for rest. Party sources said the CM visited Ghorakatora to enjoy its natural beauty. After seeing off presidential nominee Meira Kumar, whose three-day Bihar visit ended on Sunday, State Congress chief and Education Minister Ashok Choudhary, accompanied by legislature party leader Sadanand Singh and ministerial colleagues Awadhesh Kumar Singh and Madan Mohan Jha, visited Mr. Lalu Prasad at his residence. Mr. Choudhary slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the CBI raid at Mr. Prasad’s residence and other places, saying, “Since they [the BJP] have failed to defeat us [the Grand Alliance] through the people’s mandate, they are now misusing the government machinery to target us.” He also alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah were behind the CBI raid to browbeat their opponents like Lalu Prasad.The state BJP leaders have been continuously appealing to Mr Kumar to break his silence and take action against Mr. Prasad’s sons. “He always has been talking of zero tolerance of his government on the issue of corruption and, earlier, has sacked some of his ministerial colleagues like Jitan Ram Manjhi on the corruption issue…we’re hoping that Mr Kumar will not compromise with corruption this time,” said state BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. read more