Gangtok: Sikkim lone deputy Chief Minister Phur Tshering Lepcha popularly known as PT Lucksom died of COVID-19 complications at the STNM Hospital on September 2. Lucksom was 68 years old.

Lucksom last contested elections from the Rinchenpong constituency on a Trinamool Congress ticket in 2014. From 2018, he served as an advisor to the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party.

Lucksom had contested from Rinchenpong constituency on 5 different occasions since 1989-2014, winning only once in 1994.

Lucksom, went on to become the Deputy Chief Minister between 1994-97 under the first regime of former CM Pawan Kumar Chamling. He infamously had a fallout with Chamling over ‘anti-party activities’ within the then ruling Sikkim Democratic Party, wherein he was dropped as party vice president as well.

Chamling met the then Governor Chaudhari Ranvir Singh, citing that Lucksom was hatching ‘a conspiracy to dislodge Chamling’ in July 1997. Following this, Chamling dispensed off the position of the Deputy Chief Minister throughout his 25-year regime.

On his demise, Former CM Chamling shared, “PT Lucksom was one of the senior-most leaders in Sikkim politics. He joined the SDF party in the initial stage of our growth as an opposition party. He laboured together with us to restore democracy. During our movement, he was arrested by the Sikkim Police and was jailed. He became the first and the only Deputy Chief Minister of Sikkim during the first term of the SDF government. His contribution to Sikkim and the Sikkimese people will be remembered forever. His passing away has incurred an irreparable loss to Sikkim. I pay my hearty tribute to him for all his goodwill and contribution to the building up of Sikkim”.

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Following his fall out with Chamling and SDF in 1999, Lucksom formed the Nepali Bhutia Lepcha Association (NEBULA). However, he contested on a Congress ticket in that year’s election, securing a meagre 4 per cent votes from Rinchenpong.

Lucksom returned to politics in the 2014 elections after joining the All India Trinamool Congress as its President in Sikkim. At the age of 61, he secured a meagre 0.87 votes from his Rinchenpong constituency.

A close aid of Lucksom in Trinamool Congress Sikkim, Additional Political Secretary to CM Prem Singh Golay, Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha, shared, “He was the only deputy CM of Sikkim. We got introduced in 2013 when there was agitation going on in neighbouring Darjeeling Hills for Gorkhaland statehood. We were invited by Mukul Roy of TMC, therewith we formed the Trinamool Congress party in Sikkim, where he was the president and I was a former general secretary with the party. He was a simple person, followed politics like religion. He introduced me to Sikkim politics. We were in TMC for 4 years till 2017, when the agitation happened for Gorkhaland with 105 days of strike, we decided to leave TMC, as we got no response from the Bengal government to suspend police officers who fired on the youth who was eventually killed. TMC gave us no response, so we decided to quit the party.”

Lepcha shared, “He was predominantly based in West Sikkim, he was like a father to me. A thorough gentleman who was honest and humble along with being strict about politics. In 2018 he joined the SKM party as an advisor, along with him I joined the party.”

The State government has declared three days of official mourning from September 3 to 5. All Government Offices including PSUs and educational institutions have been declared shut throughout the State today. During the State mourning, the National Flag shall be flown at half-mast in all the Government establishments.

Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay shared on his social media, “I express my heartfelt condolences on the sad demise of former Deputy Chief Minister Shri PT Lucksom. He breathed his last at STNM Hospital, Sochyagang. My heart goes out to the family and friends of the deceased in this difficult hour and offer my sincere prayers for the departed soul.SKM Headquarters paid homage to Former Deputy CM cum SKM Advisor Late. PT Lucksom who passed away today morning while undergoing his treatment at New STNM Hospital,” mentions the social media post.

Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party also observed two minutes of silence with the party headquarter flag being hoisted to half-mast in respect to the departed soul.

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