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Members of Sikkim Legislative Assembly observing two minutes’ silence in memory of former state governor Sudarshan Agarwal and Meghalaya assembly speaker Donkupar Roy
Members of Sikkim Legislative Assembly observing two minutes’ silence in memory of former state governor Sudarshan Agarwal and Meghalaya assembly speaker Donkupar Roy|IPR Department
SIKKIM

Sikkim: Despite boycott call, 2 SDF MLAs attend budget session

Oppn party’s decision to boycott assembly is against constitutional rights, say Upper Tadong’s GT Dhungel & Namcheybong’s EM Prasad Sharma on second day of session

Dichen Ongmu

Dichen Ongmu

Gangtok: Despite a boycott call given by the opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), two MLAs of the party -- GT Dhungel of Upper Tadong and Em Prasad Sharma of Namcheybong constituencies -- attended the second day of the ongoing Budget session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly (SLA) on Tuesday.

The attendance by the two legislators from East Sikkim district provided a majority to the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) in passing Bills in the House.

Dhungel said that SDF’s decision of boycotting the assembly session is against the constitutional rights. “We are the representatives of the public and it is our duty to attend the assembly and conduct discussions. We are not here due to our selfish reasons but we are here for the public who have given us their mandate as the leaders with utmost trust and faith,” he added.

MLAs GT Dhungel of Upper Tadong and Em Prasad Sharma of Namcheybong on the second day of the Budget session in Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Tuesday
MLAs GT Dhungel of Upper Tadong and Em Prasad Sharma of Namcheybong on the second day of the Budget session in Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Tuesday
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Accusing the SDF of planning a partnership with the BJP in the Centre, and holding their legislature meetings there itself, Sharma said: “Their decision of boycotting the Assembly and plans of union with BJP made us go against them and form ‘SDF 2’ today,” he added.

Dhungel raised a query to chief minister PS Golay, who is also in charge of the home department, as to whether Sikkim-Darjeeling ‘merger’ was a fact or just another political propaganda.

The duo presented a petition to the House seeking separate seating arrangements as they do not want to be counted as the members of the party who boycotted the assembly. Agreeing to their demands, the House gave them separate seats behind the deputy speaker.

Chief minister PS Golay addressing the House on Tuesday
Chief minister PS Golay addressing the House on Tuesday
IPR Department

The MLAs greeted the speaker, deputy speaker and the chief minister with khadas (traditional scarves) inside the house.

Golay welcomed the duo and also congratulated them for their decision. “I never really thought that the 25-year-old experienced party SDF would act so irresponsibly and boycott the session. They should accept the public mandate to play the role of the opposition as SKM did in 2014. They should come and conduct decisions here as public representatives. Their absence proves that they are unable to face their defeat,” he said.

Replying to MLA Dhungel regarding Sikkim-Darjeeling merger that is doing rounds lately, Golay said, “It is sheer propaganda of the opposition party SDF. It is untrue and we have no such plans. Our government would never cheat our people. We abide by our special law Article 371(F) and we have to pass such major decisions under this act, thereafter it requires the consent of West Bengal government, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the President of India.”

He further alleged that SDF president and former CM Pawan Kumar Chamling always supported the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger stating examples from an excerpt of Chamling’s book Mero Sapana Ko Sikkim and his speech at Loreto College, Darjeeling in 2003 where he has shown his interest in the merger.

Golay also presented a discussion on the “White paper” on expenditure commitments, borrowings and revenue potential (Volume I & II) which was placed on the first day of the budget session on Monday.

The CM informed the house that the state is under the debt of Rs 16,207.94 crore.

Coming to the liabilities on the Bills pending and others, the state is under a debt of Rs 5,604.75 crore, he added followed by the debts under the various state departments.

“The debts are a matter of great concern which our government is finding ways to tackle it alongside the developments of the state taking into consideration various sections like health, education, pollution, farming, employment, and tourism”, said Golay.

He also announced 5th pay commission arrears and pensions to be granted in one go instead of installments to the government employees and to prepare a budget for the salary of the employees who were appointed under “one family one job” scheme by the opposition party without any interviews before the election.

He also said that the government is looking for measures to regularise the ones working on an ad hoc and MR basis.

The second-day budget session passed the of Sikkim Court Fees and Stamps on Documents (Amendment) Bill, introduced by CM Golay on Monday. The bill seeks to amend the Sikkim Court Fees and Stamps on Document Rules 1928, by seeking to introduce e-payment for the collection of court fees.

The day started with the obituary reference on the passing away of Sudarshan Agarwal, former governor of Sikkim, and Donkupar Roy, speaker of Meghalaya assembly.

On Monday, governor Ganga Prasad congratulated the newly formed government. he said that Sikkim has evolved as a progressive state with marked improvements in socio-economic indicators, despite facing several difficulties. He said that this budget marks a major milestone in delivering our commitments which are firmly based on prudent public finance management in achieving overall socio-economic development in the State.

Chief minister Golay proposed programmes mentioning the budgetary profile of the financial year 2019-2020, against gross expenditure provision of Rs 8,888 crore, the net outgo comes to Rs 8,665.36 crore after taking into account recoveries amounting to Rs 222.64 crore.

Golay also presented the much-awaited 'white paper' outlining the present level of burden of loans and liabilities, on account of the commitments and pending bills that the state inherited in the past 25 years.