Gangtok: With by-elections drawing closer, Sikkim chief minister Prem Singh Golay termed the upcoming by elections to be the “penalty shootout for the future of Sikkim”. The statement from Golay, also the president of the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, came a year after he famously said, on being released from Rongneyk jail: “Doesn’t matter who is the captain or the coach, SKM will form the government.”
After forming the government in the assembly elections with a margin of 17 seats as against Sikkim Democratic Front’s (SDF) 15 seats, Golay once again termed the by-elections to be a chance for the people to be a part of “parivartan”. On Friday, Golay was present in Pawan Chamling’s home constituency in Poklok-Kamrang in South Sikkim, which is up for grabs with the former chief minister relinquishing the constituency having won from Namchi-Singhithang.
“The condition of Poklok Kamrang is terrible with the downtrodden being ignored by Chamling and SDF party for the best part of last 25 years. The benefits and grants to be awarded for the people were all given away to the families of Chamling. Similarly, since we are in Marchak, Ranipool here today, the area falls under Sang-Martam constituency which was also relinquished by SDF’s DT Lepcha. The people of Sang-Martam having faith in Lepcha voted for him from the constituency. But Lepchas chose Gnathang-Machong over Sang-Martam to represent the people. So the people from the constituency currently do not have anyone to represent them,” said Golay.
Calling the ensuing by-elections as a “penalty shoot-out”, Golay said that the people of Sang-Martam along with Poklok-Kamrang and Gangtok constituencies have a chance to restore their faith in democracy by voting SKM to power in the constituency.
Asserting his faith in the SKM’s majority in the assembly, he talked about how the two ‘rebel’ MLAs from SDF – GT Dhungel from Upper Tadong and Em Prasad Sharma from Namcheybong – sided with the SKM. “We do have a clear majority to represent the people, we won the elections free-and-fair with 17 seats to gain majority as against SDF’s 15 seats. Now, we have two more MLAs from SDF joining hands with us. So, SDF can go on boycotting the proceedings of the House or terming our government to be illegal. But through due consultations with the governor Ganga Prasad, SKM formed the government,” he added.
Meanwhile, Golay urged the party to reach out to the people and seek their opinion and hold meetings to elect a new party president. “I have always enjoyed being the party president of SKM more than being the chief minister of Sikkim. But, currently my work as CM curtails me from working as the party president with as much devotion. I would like to assert that all decisions of the state will take place through due consultation with SKM party. The party must continue in its quest to bring about checks and balances to the functioning of the government, only then can we restore Sikkim to be for its people,” he said.
Reiterating that he was nothing without the people of Sikkim, Golay recalled his days and struggle in Rongneyk jail, exactly two years ago when he was put behind bars and the change in government ushered since his release on August 10 last year. “I am zero without the support of the people. All the promises made by SKM will be fulfilled in these 5 years.”
Golay also recalled the contribution of SKM MLAs Kunga Nima Lepcha and Sonam Lama for having carried the party during his absence. “Even when I was in jail, these two MLAs used to come to the jail to discuss with me the functioning of the SKM party and how best to serve the people. With a single strength as a rebel MLA under SDF, I raised my voice for the people in the assembly. Similar stand was taken by the two MLAs during my absence from 2017 to 2018. When one leader can be an opposition in the assembly, it truly is disheartening to see the absence of opposition in the assembly, over the ego of one person who cannot bear to see me in the assembly,” Golay said.
The party, however, made the announcement to give all grants promised to the people by the SDF government before the elections. “We have come up with a few initiatives that will be added as part of giving away grants to the people, among them being Rs 16 crore for house-repairing in the state. Along with that, other stipends for the poor, old, and the underprivileged will also be given,” Golay added.