People wanted 'parivartan', now they're regretting in SKM govt: Bhaichung Bhutia

Gangtok: Accusing the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) in Sikkim of using money for political influence, former Indian footballer and Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) head Bhaichung Bhutia on Sunday said that the people of the state struggled together for ‘parivartan’ (change), but now all they have is only regret.

Bhutia, who’s just back from his broadcasting assignment for Euro 2020 football tournament, said. “We struggle to earn. SKM government now uses money for political influence. For ‘parivartan’ we struggled together, but now there is regret for most people. We gave SKM time as a new government for two and a half years, we were in support. But their lack of welcoming political suggestions exhibits their arrogance.”

In his first address to the media after the SKM government came to power two and a half years ago, the Padma Shri awardee also accused the party of “diverting all promises from their manifesto to making Mintokgang a cancer hospital”.

“My vote from Kabi-Tingda went in favour of SKM. Hamro Sikkim Party is away from the ‘Chowki Rajneeti’, we fight for people’s rights in government or as politics. Our ambition is not to be the chief minister,” said the working president of HSP.

Bhutia also brought back the issue of Namchi Hospital, accusing the SKM government of “taking commissions and percentages” from the Rs 580 crore sanctioned for the controversial hospital project at the veterinary grounds in South Sikkim.

“Namchi is already a congested place. We can see how Gangtok has become an example of congestion. Karfectar would have been ideal for raising the town. It would cater to both South Sikkim and West Sikkim districts. Now, people from as far as Uttarey to Yuksom will have to come to Namchi Hospital, as it has become evident now that there will be no new hospital for West Sikkim district,” said Bhaichung Bhutia.

“Namchi Hospital was a project under the erstwhile Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) goverment for Rs 300 crore. They wanted to upgrade the existing Namchi District Hospital. But the present government raised the sanction and wanted a new hospital for money, commission and percentage,” he added.

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Bhutia claimed his commission accusations to be based on data. He even brought the issue of the Centre of Excellence coming up in Soreng, CM Golay’s home constituency in West Sikkim.

Bhutia urged CM’s economic advisor Mahendra P Lama to bring transparency on “private sector being introduced”. “SKM should come clean on its politics instead of just being lured by money and handing away projects and contracts to the Agarwals every time,” he alleged.

Bhaichung Bhutia also accused the ruling government of masquerading the effigy burning incident in Namchi. “SKM had made promises of women empowerment around 2009. But even in the recent municipal elections, it gave just a 2.5-year term to a women mayor candidate. The male candidate for mayor got five years,” he alleged.

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