GANGTOK: On the second day of the sixth session of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, during the question hour, Maneybong Dentam constituency BJP legislator NK Subba placed the question on the formula for reservation of the Limboo-Tamang seat in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. His question was directed towards whether the seat reservation will happen from the existing 32 seats or a newer formula will be adopted.

Sonam Tshering Venchungpa

Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay responded to the question by highlighting how the demand for seat reservations had begun from 2002-03 when the two communities secured tribal status. He stated, “The SKM government has raised the concern with the Union Government, the tribal affairs ministry time and again. There is a need for collective effort rather than an individualistic approach. It is the issue of the Sikkimese people and we are certain that the Central government will take action. The delimitation of constituencies is yet to happen and there is a need for constituency deliberation.”

The Chief Minister went on to mention the committees formed for the LT seat reservation issue led by the Member of Parliament for Lok Sabha Indra Hang Subba and also for the 12 left-out communities for their tribal status recognition led by TN Dhakal. However, Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay made no mention of the formula as asked by legislator NK Subba.

NK Subba

Similarly, BJP legislator Dilli Ram Thapa raised the question to Social Welfare Minister MK Sharma on the steps taken by the State Government to provide LT seat reservation in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. Thapa also questioned the step taken by the State government to include 12 left-out communities in the Tribal category till now.

Social Welfare Minister MK Sharma mentioned a series of dates where the meetings have happened with the central leaders including the meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 11, 2021. Sharma stated, “We have made multiple visits for deliberation with the central leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They have assured me that the matter is under consideration. We are all prepared to get things done, but the matter is part of priority consideration by the Union Government.”

DR Thapa

Upper Burtuk constituency legislator DR Thapa went on to suggest, “These are the two biggest political issues of the State. We (BJP legislators) are ready to extend any support and make representation collectively. There is no blame game here.”

As part of his valedictory address, Martam-Rumtek constituency’s BJP legislator Sonam Tshering Venchungpa highlighted how the former State government missed out on the 20006 delimitation process to secure the Limboo-Tamang seat reservation. He stated, “When I speak for Limboo-Tamang community, do not see me as belonging from the Bhutia community consider me as Sikkimese. The 2006 delimitation was perhaps the right time to secure the seat reservation for Limboo-Tamang communities. But either it was through design or by accident, we failed to secure the seat reservation. It was a burning issue then, it is still in the discussion today. If there is a representation to be made to the central government, we must all do it collectively.”

Later speaking with the media outside the Assembly, Venchungpa stated, “In 2006 when the delimitation commission was under Justice Kuldeep Singh, at that time delimitation constitution happened and at that, we already got the Limboo-Tamang seat reservation. Then SDF government legislators were members of the delimitation commission. Justice Kuldeep Singh was merely the Chairman. If those members had secured the reservation, it was such a small thing. Our communities have got the tribal status, they should have pressed on the seat reservation then. It would have been easier. For years this has been an injustice to the Limboo-Tamang communities. It is a miscarriage of justice.”

On the formula query raised by fellow BJP legislator NK Subba, Venchungpa stated, “Formulation is not the solution, it cannot be done only by the State government. There are provisions for the reservation to happen within 32 seats as well as with the Assembly seat increase, it can be any number. But it has to be under the guidelines and parameters, whether it is feasible or not. Central and State government both have norms. The number as such is not important. Consensus has to be built and if the issues were dealt with at the right time in the past, we would not have faced this situation. If there is an agreement from central government, State can only request, when the central government agrees to give seat reservation then comes the issue of the formulation.”

Also read | Sikkim: Three new Bills introduced in state assembly

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