Gangtok: The municipal elections in Sikkim‘s Gangtok have been nothing short of dramatic, especially for the post of Gangtok Municipal Corporation (GMC) mayor.

Initially, a ‘document’ was doing the rounds on social media that Kala Rai, councillor from Lower Sichey ward, has the consent of at least 16 elected councilors to be the next mayor of Gangtok.

However, Rai’s refusal to accept the ‘half term’ of 2.5 years, led to a new mayor being selected the next day.

On Tuesday, the 18-member council unanimously voted Nell Bahadur Chettri from Burtuk ward as the Mayor and Tshering Palden Bhutia from the Development Area ward as the deputy mayor.

Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay welcomed the new GMC councilors at the Samman Bhawan for an introductory programme. Congratulating the newly elected GMC council, he said: “The non-partisan based election system has laid the foundation for aspiring future leaders to independently contest based on their ability and will to serve the people”.

Highlighting women’s empowerment and upliftment of women in the state, the CM said, “More than 50% of the seats were reserved for women candidates with the liberty to contest on the remaining. Our government’s intention is to relentlessly work towards women empowerment and safety and provide an impartial and congenial environment for them. We are committed to promoting our women, safeguarding their rights and supporting them in their endeavours.”

The newly elected councilors with chief minister Prem Singh Golay at Samman Bhawan on Tuesday

CM also urged the councillors to be people-centric, be sensible and compassionate towards the needy and always be available to help them.

The swearing-in ceremony and election of the mayor and deputy mayor took place at the GMC office on Tuesday. East Sikkim District Collector Ragul K administered the oath of office to the newly-elected councillors.

The otherwise 19-member council had only 17 members on Tuesday on account of Arithang II councillor Raju Tamang’s death on Sunday. Meanwhile, Kala Rai attended the oath-taking ceremony through video conferencing as she is a primary contact of COVID-19 patient.

Five executive councillors are yet to be selected. They will be selected in the second GMC meeting, informed DC Ragul K.

“Through election, only the person is elected. There is no mention of how many years the person will remain in the post. If anything happens in between, the government will notify,” he added.

Steering clear of the controversy surrounding the election of mayor, Chettri said: “She (Kala Rai) didn’t want to be mayor but I have been elected as the mayor by all the councillors. It’s her choice and there is no controversy here. After this position that I have earned, I will have a thorough discussion with all the councillors and hold a meeting to decide what needs to be done next.”

On being asked if he would accept the 2.5 years of being mayor, as was opposed by Kala Rai, Chettri stated, “I will accept if such a decision is taken. It’s the decision of the house and we must accept it. She didn’t accept, it’s her choice.”

“This is being done so that another councillor gets a chance. It has not been my choice to be the mayor, I have been selected by other candidates,” he added.

Deputy mayor Tshering Palden Bhutia extended her gratitude to the state government and chief minister Prem Singh Golay. “The government has given a woman a chance to come ahead and represent the community. I shall take my responsibilities as the deputy mayor and work for the people,” she added.

Newly-elected GMC deputy mayor Tshering Palden Bhutia

Earlier, a two-minute silence was observed to pay tribute to deceased councillor Raju Tamang.

Similarly, the swearing-in-ceremony of the 10 councillors of Singtam Nagar Panchayat and Rangpo Nagar Panchayat were also conducted at the Community Hall, Singtam. ADC East Sikkim cum AMERO for Singtam and Rangpo Nagar Panchayat Tushar G Nikhare administered the oath of affirmation to the newly-elected councillors. 

Suresh Kr Tamang from Chisopani ward was unanimously elected as the Municipal President and Bindhya Subba from Mandir Line ward as Municipal Vice President of Singtam Nagar Panchayat.

Likewise, Sanjeev Kumar Khati from Mandi Bazar ward was elected as the Municipal President and Radha Pradhan from Mining ward as the Municipal Vice President of Rangpo Nagar Panchayat, respectively. The elections were conducted as per reservation of seats in Singtam and Rangpo Nagar Panchayat duly notified vide notification of UDD.

The Oath taking ceremony of the newly elected councillors of Namchi Municipal Council and Nayabazar Jorethang Nagar Panchayat was held at District Administrative Centre, Namchi.

South Sikkim DC M Bharani Kumar presided over the oath-taking ceremony. Following the oath-taking ceremony, Ganesh Rai from Upper Singithang Ward was elected as Namchi Municipal Chairperson, Sabitri Tamang from Upper Boomtar Ward was elected as Municipal Vice Chairperson and Nima Choden Lepcha of Gangyap Ward was elected as Executive Authority member.

Also read: A Sikkim journalist had to delete his story on World Press Freedom Day

Similarly, for Nayabazar Jorethang Nagar Panchayat, Pabitra Kumar Sharma from Daragaon Ward and Manjari Rai from Trikaleshwar Ward were elected as Municipal President and Municipal Vice- President, respectively.

Norkit Lepcha was elected as Mangan Nagar Panchayat president. The oath-taking ceremony of the five newly-elected councillors of Mangan Nagar Panchayat took place in the District Collector’s chamber, in the presence of DC (North)-cum-Municipal Returning Officer at Mangan today.

Ugen Palzor Kazi has been elected as the vice president of Mangan Nagar Panchayat.

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