Gangtok: September 22 marked the 71st birthday of former chief minister and leader of Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) Pawan Chamling.

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The SDF had organised a huge event to mark the day at the party headquarters in Gangtok. The five-time chief minister of Sikkim was accorded a warm welcome by his supporters, followed by a 2-hour garlanding ceremony.

However, the most conspicuous was the complete silence on part of the sitting legislator from Namchi-Singhithang constituency. With his hand gesturing ‘fingers on lips’, all that Chamling offered was repeated ‘Namaskar’ to the media even on his birthday.

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Much to the disappointment of the public, there was no public address. Repeated requests from the media also failed to elicit any response from the leader. Multiple queries were sent, even through his daughter Komal Chamling, but the former CM wouldn’t relent.

The leader’s silence soon started creating a loud buzz on social media, with many claiming it to be a form of protest by Chamling. Some said that it was disrespectful to the media and the public gathered at the event.

Chamling was infamously heckled out of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly during the swearing in of current Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay as the leader of the House in 2019. Since then, Chamling has been marked absent from all legislative proceedings of the House.

Party supporters have long argued that Chamling may never return to Assembly “as long as Golay is the leader”. But many are also of the opinion that this silence from a leader with 25 years of history is taking away the voice of the opposition.

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