Sikkim chief minister and SDF chief Pawan Kumar Chamling Credit: EastMojo Image

Gangtok: Following Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s (SKM) declaration of PS Golay as its chief ministerial candidate, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) president and chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling on Monday asked how a person, who can’t even contest elections to become a panchayat member, can become the head of the state.

Golay served a one-year jail term in 2017-2018 on corruption charges.

After filing his nomination papers for the two Assembly constituencies of Poklok-Kamrang and Namchi-Singhithang in South Sikkim, Chamling asserted that Golay cannot contest any election until August 10, 2024, when he completes six years from the day he was released from prison.

“This is a fact known to all. Yet, the manner in which the SKM has declared its chief ministerial candidate is nothing but an attempt fool the people by resorting to lie,” said Chamling.

The SDF held a press conference at its party office in Gangtok, where party spokesperson KT Gyaltsen brought to light the flaws in SKM’s stand on Article 164(4), according to which the SKM has been asserting on Golay as its CM candidate. Gyaltsen said, “Under the same Article 164, as quoted by the SKM, the preceding Clause 3 states that a minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the legislature of the state shall at the expiration of that period cease to be a minister. They have misquoted the law, by mentioning the governor in the provision. This is a great injustice, as you cannot change the basic structure of the constitution. The SKM is trying to change the basic meaning and essence of the article.”

He said that any convicted person cannot administer oath in front of the governor. “It is misinterpretation of law as well as facts, misleading of electors and a violation of the model code of conduct. The statement released by the SKM is false and any false statement in connection with an election, with the intent to affect the result of an election makes or publishes a false statement, is punishable under the IPC,” Gyaltsen added.

Citing examples of former Tamil Nadu CM late J Jayalalitha’s case, Gyaltsen said, “The only difference in the case of PS Golay is that he did not file the nomination. In terms of law, there is no short cut. It has to be entered via the front door and not the back door. It can’t happen as such a person cannot be appointed as the chief minister and on similar grounds the late chief minister was removed from her post as CM.”

Sitting Lok Sabha MP from SDF, Prem Das Rai, demanded an intervention from the Chief Election Officer (CEO) to take suo moto cognizance in the case of PS Golay. “We will file before the CEO, this particular case in writing, we demand that he take suo moto congnizance that he [Golay] is cheating the electorate, misguiding them which is in violation of electoral code of conduct. It is known that Golay cannot contest and the same was proved when he didn’t stand for candidature. Yet, they are fooling the electorate using provisions from the constitution. There is no legal provision that allows Golay to contest or be a CM. SKM should not spread lies and illegal issues and fool the people, we challenge against them.”

On Ashish Rai filing his nomination as an independent candidate from Arithang constituency after being denied a SDF party ticket, party spokesperson Bhim Dahal said, “No person is stronger than the principle of the SDF, no person is stronger than our leader and this party is laid down on complete support of the people. Some of the people in the party are opportunist and they tend to go against the party. Ashish Rai was also in representative position in the party. He has lost that position from his own constituency. He was a young politician who had just begun his career and who had been given a responsibility by the party. We expected that he would extend support to the selected candidate from the party.”

Chamling also sought to dismiss the brewing revolt in his party led by leaders who were denied tickets, including Ashish Rai. “It is natural for such things to happen during elections. It is from such incidents that we can identify the leaders who are true to our party’s ideology and those who are in the party for their own interest,” he said.

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