Gangtok: Bhaichung Bhutia-founded Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) has announced party spokesperson Biraj Adhikari as its candidate for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state.
The 57-year-old politician will also contest from the Rhenock constituency in the Assembly elections for a third time. On the previous two occasions, Adhikari was with Sikkim Democratic Front in 1994 and Sikkim National People’s Party in 2009. He had also previously contested for the Lok Sabha seat as a Congress candidate in 2004. However, he had failed to win the people’s mandate on all the occasions.
Along with Adhikari, HSP also announced candidates for three other constituencies – Phurkit Lepcha for Yuksam-Tashiding (West), Sangay Chopel Bhutia for Gnathang-Machong (East) — both of which are Bhutia-Lepcha reserved constituencies — and Rudra Khatiwada for Chujachen in East Sikkim.
Addressing the gathering, HSP working president Bhaichung Bhutia highlighted Adhikari’s contribution as a politician for the past 25 years. He said: “There is no doubt that his love for the state and its people has kept him so active and devoted all these years, when he had taken up many issues over the years. He has fought extensively for the protection of the people raising issues of Sikkim subject or Article 371F, without selling his credibility ever. He could have joined any party, in the current scenario of money-run politics. There are a very few politicians like him in the state today.”
Bhutia added: “Adhikari is the one who has stuck to his principles and such a person is part of our party. We feel proud to declare him as our candidate for the Lok Sabha seat along with the Rhenock constituency in the Assembly elections.”
Highlighting the failures of the state in the past, Adhikari said: “In the 45 years of Sikkim being a democracy, there have been many rights of the people that have been denied and lost. Over the last 25 years, I have raised these issues either in the state or with the Centre and even taking them to the court. The people have become aware of their rights and it wouldn’t be wrong to say that I have been part of this awareness to some extent. If the people feel that I have played some role in such awareness, I urge the people to strengthen my hands.”
“I have been shouting, I will continue to do so in the future for the people of Sikkim,” he added.
Asserting on his political campaign with ‘This time for Sikkim’, Adhikari further said, “Even when Sikkim is getting sold, people are still voting for the SDF. We urge them not to do for this time. Some of our old laws tend to clash with the Indian Constitution, to counter them requires a lot of research, and I have been doing the same for the past 10-15 years. With ideas for solution, I have been part of HSP to create a new Sikkim.”
Adhikari said the historical baggage needs to be sorted, but with the current government the same is not happening. “Being a Sikkimese, I will not let our rights be dissed away for the upcoming generation. Give us the weapon to solve such issues with your votes, as this time your votes are for Sikkim,” he added.
Among other declared candidates on Tuesday, 30-year-old Phurkit Lepcha is an entrepreneur who was formerly associated with state BJP in 2014. Forty-six-year old Rudra Khatiwada is a social activist since 1997 and has previously contested from Rhenock constituency under Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad in 2009. He was an active member for Sikkim Krantikari Morcha in 2013 but was expelled from the party. From 2014 to December 26, 2018 he was part of Sikkim Democratic Front until he joined HSP for their youth-oriented politics.
Following the press conference, Sangay Chopel Bhutia, a taxi operator by profession, raised various issues of the taxi drivers in the state along with fellow candidate Pahalman Kami from Zoom-Salghari urging the ‘Chalak Vargha’ to come forth and support HSP in the coming elections.