Sikkim Congress president Bharat Basnet  Credit: EastMojo image

Gangtok: “No one is a tyrant at birth, the society makes one,” remarked Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee president Bharat Basnet while referring to the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) government for indulging in ‘warfare’ with opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) across media.

Basnet highlighted the condemnation called by SKM in inviting the media and the social media outrage by a party worker against a stranded person. While addressing the media at his residence in Ranipool on Monday, he slammed the ruling party of paying less attention to the pandemic.

“On May 8, SKM led a barrage on SDF ‘s questions and statements with MP Indra Hang Subba blaming the previous government on its shortcomings with STNM Hospital. But, the SKM government is still acting as an opposition party when it continues the blame game, instead of acting on the shortcomings as a government. It was for this reason they were welcomed for ‘Parivartan’. It is the mistakes of the previous government that brought them here, they must act on all corruption allegations that they have thrown on SDF with vigilance and other investigation agencies,” said Basnet while questioning the need for media being involved in the blame game.

Basnet also questioned the state government on the urgency to arrest individuals of showcasing the dreaded condition of the quarantine facility over the arrest of a BJP functionary hurling abuses on a nurse at Central Referral Hospital. “The issue of the ANM nurse, who was hurled abuses by Kailash Agarwal, identified as a BJP functionary has since died out and no action was taken against the individual. We fear it was his ties with Centre’s ruling BJP that curtailed the matter, while the same can be considered as unlawful amidst the implementation of the NDMA Act in the state. No health worker can be abused or misbehaved. Elsewhere, the state government and district administration are prompt in acting against people raising concerns over the quality of quarantine facility, particularly in the case of JNV School in Pakyong.”

SPCC further slammed the ruling government to shed their ‘Robin-Hood-esque’ approach to government questioning the action taken by the women MLAs of the state on the social media warfare involving a lady who wanted to be brought back home, amidst questioning the favoured Kota students to come back home.

“The state has MLAs, Iron Ladies, and many women in the front, but no one raised a genuine concern for the lady who wanted to come back home or questioned the social media warfare that was encouraged by the people at large. While blaming the opposition, they have failed to see the mirror and act upon good governance. Even with regards to the nurse, Agarwal being an RSS member was suddenly seen as being above the law,” he said.

Basnet also questioned the state government on allotting Rs 63 crore for statue construction in Central Pendam in East Sikkim. “Poverty and famine could follow along with economic crisis with the pandemic but the state government failed short on these concerns during its recent Cabinet decisions. The decision on Rs 63 crore for a statue in Central Pendam doesn’t put the state as one ushering Parivartan as similar steps were taken by the previous government. The same allocation could have been better used for water connectivity to Central Pendam which has been troubled by the same for years. The same allocated fund could have also been used to counter issues arising in the pandemic from payment of salaries to teachers and muster roll employees to more needed betterment in sectors such as forest, agriculture, and power in the state and even tourism which is faltering during the pandemic,” he said.

SPCC also questioned the state government’s decision on multiple re-employment and extensions being given to senior bureaucrats in the State. “SKM as the opposition was against the same, the government called for the stoppage of such re-employment and extension practices from April, yet extensions are happening. If such bureaucrats are being given extension, then they must extend 50% of their salary to the state to fight the pandemic as has been practiced by the ministers and Speaker in the Assembly with 35% of their annual salary being devoted to fighting the pandemic,” he said.

Among the various suggestions floated by the Congress leader included the welcoming of migrants to facilitate their travel back to their home state, as has been promised by Indian National Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. “The party cannot directly reach out to the migrants but any migrant in need of such facilitation, Congress will help,” he said.

The party also appealed to the district administrations to extend the time period for shops to functioning from the existing 10 am opening to an earlier 8 am opening given the people’s early rising practices in the state. “Priority is being laid on liquor shops but social distancing is not being maintained. Taxes can be levied by the government on alcohol and tobacco, all the while paying attention to price hoarding on essential commodities,” Basnet added.

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