Sikkim: Reform Call questions SKM why Jan Unmukti Diwas is being celebrated
Reform Call members Albert Gurung and Mahesh Subba speaking at a press conference

Gangtok: Reform Call, led by defected former Sikkim Democratic Front leader Ganesh Rai, questioned the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) on the basis of which party was going to celebrate ‘Jan Unmukti Diwas’ on August 10.

Reform Call members Albert Gurung and Mahesh Rai speaking at a press conference at the Journalist Union of Sikkim on Monday questioned, “How can SKM justify ‘Jan Unmukti Diwas’ when they are victimising and terminating sections of Sikkimese society including former One Family One Job (OFOJ) employees to the students in the state. Teachers are being manhandled and made to fight each other. There is no ground where the people can appeal against the injustices of the government, so there is no Jan Unmukti happening in Sikkim.”

Reform Call slammed Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay for being hailed as ‘Nelson Mandela’ by SKM functionaries for “going to jail for the people”.

“Golay went to jail as a result of due process of the judiciary on corruption charges. Him being hailed as Nelson Mandela is kind of contradictory as corruption has become rampant under him and people are being terminated. In the context of OFOJ employees, it was a social welfare initiative that has been accorded by the High Court of Sikkim for its legitimacy. So when they terminate those employees how can they celebrate Jan Unmukti Diwas? Just because people voted for him and his party, he cannot misuse the power,” Rai added.

Reform Call also asserted that they are taking to active politics with a political party being floated within 2022 with eyes on taking part in the state’s legislative elections in 2024.

“With our party, we will show how inclusive politics can or needs to be done. We have nothing against the SKM or SDF party; they are the biggest political powerhouses in Sikkim currently. But we also feel that every person can go to the party of their liking and ideology,” said Albert Gurung.

While welcoming the existence of “thousands of parties in Sikkim”, Reform Call reminded those at the conference of the practice of horse-trading and misuse of existing laws by the parties in power.

“We can see that the SDF party is dwindling, but it is not merely the fault of the SKM party. The party in itself must have some ideology, reform measures, and rules and practices that are directed toward the people. To think that the SKM can cleanse all of these former politicians of their corruption and crimes is wrong. If the SKM government wants to act, then instead of selling stories they can act on the different loots of the previous government, they can bring the Central Bureau of Investigation and put those individuals behind bars. For every illegal and corruptive measure, there is a legal system for it,” he stated.

It also raised concerns about the state government’s decision on the one-year maternity leave for teachers, questioning whether the process would follow for other female employees in the state as well. They stated, “It’s an injustice if this policy is driven towards vote-bank politics towards the teachers. It’s an injustice if the government is not considerate of other employees. It is as if the others do not need maternity leave. Every policy of the government must be considerate of all the people of Sikkim, it should be a well-thought decision. But almost every decision of this government comes with rectification later, inclining that no policy of the government is well thought out and inclusive of everyone. How can a policy such as maternity leave be phase wise, are the women employees supposed to give birth in a phase-wise manner?” Rai questioned.

Reform Call also raised concerns on the recently passed Rs 15,000 minimum wage for labours, questioning whether the employees will get the arrears from May 1. It also highlighted how there should be no differentiation in various categories of labourers.

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