GANGTOK: Sikkim Krantikari Morcha legislators countered questions from BJP legislators over the Limboo Tamang seat reservation issue, claiming it to be a failure of the former SDF government.
Three legislators, namely Dilliram Thapa, Dorjee Tshering Lepcha and NK Subba, raised concerns on various shortcomings of government, particularly to the long-pending issue of Limboo Tamang seat reservation, Karmapa to Sikkim and Companies Act, among many discussions on the second day of the fifth assembly session of the 10th Sikkim Legislative Assembly in Gangtok on Tuesday.
The treasury bench of the SKM government locked horns with its alliance partner BJP at the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, where the former SDF legislators were reminded about their shortcomings in the previous SDF government on issues now raised by them.
Discussions fielded by the BJP MLAs stretched well over an hour, particularly on Companies Act, Limboo-Tamang seats and Karmapa issues. But the inclination offered by the BJP inclined on the Limboo-Tamang seat issue to be taken by the BJP ‘if the SKM cannot deliver.’
Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay, also the Leader of the House, took part in two discussions wherein he reminded the alliance partner BJP MLAs that the persisting on these issues is because of ‘the previous SDF government where they were senior ministers then.’
Former ministers D.T. Lepcha, N.K. Subba, along with MLAs DR Thapa and Farwanti Tamang had sought to know the steps taken by the SKM government on providing Limboo-Tamang seats in the Assembly and tribal status for the left-out communities.
In his reply, Social Welfare minister Dr MK Sharma said the State government has written three times to the Centre on the two demands in 2021. “Our government had also passed a resolution seeking tribal status for the left-out communities, and our demands are before the Union government for consideration.”
On this, BJP legislator DT Lepcha pointed out a 2020 press statement given by the then Sikkim BJP in charge, wherein he had stated that the Limboo-Tamang seat reservation ball is in the State government’s court and the State needs to submit a formula. “It has been one year, where is the formula?”, he questioned.
“Will the Limboo-Tamang seats be there before the 2024 elections? Will the 12 left-out communities get tribal status? If the SKM cannot deliver this, we, the BJP will take the initiative,” challenged Subba.
Dr Sharma responded by stating that Limboo-Tamang seat reservation is a sensitive issue. “It should not be compared as a ball to be tossed in this or that direction. The BJP functionary’s statement in 2020 cannot be taken as the official statement unless communicated in writing to the State government. We are in constant communication with the Centre regarding these two demands”, he said.
The Chief Minister then joined the discussions and started from where the then BJP State in-charge had stated to media in 2020.
“According to our senior member, the BJP functionary had stated that Limboo-Tamang seat is in the court of the State government, if it is so, then we are happy to know that the seat reservation is a State subject. But D.T. Lepcha is a senior member, and he should know that the Limboo-Tamang seat issue is a Central subject. As for the State government, we have sincerely sought the Constitutional rights for the Limboo-Tamang communities with regular representations to the Centre,” said Golay.
Golay maintained that D.T. Lepcha must accept that the previous SDF government is to be blamed for the denial of the political rights of the two communities.
“If the previous government had been sincere to the Limboo-Tamang communities, they would have got the seats in 2006 itself when the delimitation took place. The Delimitation Commission had come to Sikkim in 2006 and they had written to the State government to urgently send the population data of the two communities for giving them seats but the then government ignored the letter. If a reply had been given, the Limboo-Tamang seats would have happened in 2006,” reminded the Chief Minister.
Golay added the SKM election manifesto does not promise Limboo-Tamang seats in ’10 days’ or ‘100 days’ of government formation. We have promised to work sincerely on this demand, he said.
D.R. Thapa submitted that the two demands have not been pursued seriously. “We cannot be dependent on mere letters and we must collectively work on this”, he said.
Earlier, the Upper Burtuk MLA had questioned Commerce & Industries minister B.S. Panth on steps taken to regulate companies operating in Sikkim. He stated that “local entrepreneurs are facing hardships as the Registration of Companies (Sikkim) Act 1961 is repealed while the Companies Act 2013 has not been extended to Sikkim. There is no active law at present in Sikkim regarding companies”, he said.
Panth added that “the Companies Act 2013 was passed in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha when the past SDF government had its MPs in two houses of the Parliament.”
Thapa appealed that “it is no use by playing the blame game when local entrepreneurs are suffering. We should look for an early solution. Why should our people register their companies outside Sikkim?”, he said. He maintained that the old law has been repealed by the new Central Act.
Q: How many ration cards have been issued by the Food & Civil Supplies department?
Minister Arun Upreti: Nil
Q. On what basis has the department prepared the list of migrant labourers?
Minister Arun Upreti: So far Food & Civil Supplies department has not prepared any list of migrant labourers.
Q: How much rice is produced/yielded in Sikkim every year? Is the produce sufficient to meet the demand according to the total population?
Minister L.N. Sharma: 17,182 tonnes of paddy is produced in Sikkim every year. The produce is not sufficient to meet the demand according to the total population.
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