A middle school drop out, Pawan Kumar Chamling has risen to emerge as the tallest leader in the 35 years since the merger of Sikkim, by leading his party to a record fourth consecutive term in office.
The political career of 59-year-old Chamling, a five-term legislator has been smooth, barring two years in the early 1990s when he went underground to wage a political battle with his mentor and then chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari.
He had resigned from the Bhandari ministry questioning lack of transparency and democratic process of decision-making in the government.
He formed his own political party, the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) on March 4, 1993 and stormed to power in Sikkim a year later vanquishing Bhandari winning 19 assembly seats and 42 per cent votes riding on the support of other backward and most backward castes, a combination he has nursed till date.
Chamling, who emerged as a self-tutored master of statecraft, strengthened his command in state politics in the assembly polls held in 1999 in which the SDF won 24 assembly seats and improved its vote tally to about 62 per cent.