GANGTOK: Twelve former legislators from the first and second consecutive terms of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly were felicitated on the 20th Foundation Day celebration of the Former Legislators’ Federation of Sikkim. Three surviving legislators from the first consecutive term (1975-79): Ram Chandra Poudyal, Nar Bahadur Khatiwada and Mohan Gurung were felicitated.
Similarly, from the second consecutive term (1981-84), nine legislators – Padam Lal Gurung, Samten Tshering Bhutia, Dadul Bhutia, Dawgal Pintso Bhutia, Athup Lepcha, Mohan Prasad Sharma, Khara Nanda Upreti, D. B. Thatal and Sonam Tshering Bhutia were felicitated.
The felicitation was also carried out for former members of Parliament both from Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. They included Leonard Solomon Saring, Pahalman Subba, Dil Kumari Bhandari and Nandu Thapa were felicitated.
Along with them, 62 widows and families of former legislators were also felicitated on the occasion.
Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay attended the event as the chief guest along with his cabinet of ministers and legislators. Golay termed the event as historic for having all former legislators and MPs under one roof.
Golay in his address, stated, “This is not a government or party event, it is strictly apolitical and anyone holding a wrong perception about the foundation day of Former Legislators Association should correct themselves. It is a matter of respect for the contribution made by different legislators in their capacity at different times during their tenure in their respective constituencies. Their process and party affiliations may have been different but they have in their way contributed to making Sikkim what it is today.”
Golay admitted that despite being born before democracy was introduced in the State, he didn’t know so many of the former legislators. He said, “I feel privileged to have got this golden opportunity to meet all the former legislators assembled here. I am not here to woo any of the former legislators to join Sikkim Krantikari Morcha. All of us are affiliated with a certain party or some ideology, it is our right to do so. Sometimes events and a matter of respect are beyond political lines and for the betterment of society at large.”
Golay admitted that “the day you become a legislator you are bound to become a former legislator someday. There is no denying that even a former legislator at some point may become a legislator again. But to think that a legislator will get the keys to the kingdom is wrong. Many of our former legislators are today in dreaded conditions as trouble be it financial or medical, comes to us all.”
On the occasion Golay announced that the state government will award Rs 10 lakh annually from the state budget as a grant-in-aid for the former legislators through the association to cover the medical needs or other expenses of the legislators.
Golay suggested that former legislators are think tanks welcoming their suggestions to various functioning of the Government. He said, “Every Chief Minister including Pawan Chamling has contributed to where Sikkim stands today. But now it is my responsibility to take Sikkim ahead. Many laws enacted by these legislators are governing our state currently and protecting our people. In politics and elections, we may oppose each other but not everything and every time we need to see each other from a political eye but it has to be pro-Sikkimese.”
On the occasion, the Chief Minister also inaugurated an office for the Former Legislators in Gangtok, which in the past served as a government bungalow. The CM suggested, “We can demolish the existing bungalow to make a new structure as there is ample space to convert the existing structure into a bigger structure. The same has been suggested to the building and housing department.”
Golay also made consideration for medical facilities for former legislators which will either be given monthly or annually. While speaking about the pensions for former legislators, Golay said, “It is understood that Rs. 15,000 for one-time legislator and Rs. 20,000 for multiple time legislator is very less. We will ensure that the same will be hiked from the coming year taking the Stage revenue into account.”
Former Chief Minister late Nar Bahadur Bhandari passed away in 2017, and the family of Bhandari has refused to accept the pension given by the government to the former CM. Golay announced on the occasion, “Former MP Dil Kumari Bhandari who is the wife of the former CM NB Bhandari has expressed her desire to contribute the pension of former CM as scholarship for one meritorious student from Nar Bahadur Bhandari Degree College which we praise and fully support the decision of the family.”
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