The prime minister of Tibetan government-in-exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, on Thursday said the announcement by the Dalai Lama that he was retiring from public life could undermine the legitimacy of the government-in-exile.
"After Dalai Lama's resignation, legitimacy would be the biggest issue before us. Without Dalai Lama, we (the government-in-exile) will not have any legitimacy in the eyes of Tibetans. It is a real question before us and we have to find a solution to it," said Rinpoche.
"However, status of Tibetans living in exile in India would not change. We have no problem with India as we are very comfortable here," said Rinpoche. The Tibetan government-in-exile is in Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh in northern India and it is not recognised by any country in the world.
The Dalai Lama, 75, Thursday during his annual address to Tibetans and the international community, announced his decision to retire and devolve his "formal authority" to an elected leader while staying committed to the cause of Tibet.
Rinpoche, who will be completing his second term as prime minister-in-exile (Kalon Tripa) in May this year, has enjoyed full confidence of the Dalai Lama. He has been a powerful political figure in Tibetan community living in India.
"We do understand what his holiness is planning and he is asking people to become independent of Dalai Lamas. Since 1960s, he has been trying to educate people and guiding us. He thinks it could be the appropriate time, therefore he is trying to transfer the entire power to the elected leadership," said Rinpoche.
"But we still do not feel ourselves competent to take over and become independent of the Dalai Lama. Therefore thousands of requests are coming from various quarters to postpone his decision. We can reduce the number of (his) ceremonial functions, but as a guardian and spiritual leader he should continue."
Rinpoche said that the Dalai Lama wants to transfer all political authority to elected leaders. He admitted that it would affect the dialogues process, between Tibetans and others.
"Yes, it would certainly affect the dialogues going on about the Tibetan cause but we shall find some way to continue these. We have to find some innovative and constructive way to handle the situation. Although we do not have any readymade solution to this," pointed out Rinpoche.
Rinpoche maintained that the Dalai Lama, despite his retirement plans, continued to be the spiritual leader.
"Spiritual leadership does not come by appointment or by election, it's all self-evident and it would not change. However, political leadership should not be permanent and not confined to one person. Dalai Lama believed in the principles of modern democracy system where people are supreme," stated Rinpoche.
Talking about the violent protests by Tibetan youths, Rinpoche said, "Tibet is committed to non-violence. Protest demonstration of some youths outside the Chinese embassy does not prove that we are intending to follow violent path. These youths do not represent our people. Moreover they were not violent they were only aggressive."