Darjeeling on Wednesday celebrated a different election victory. 42-year-old Lobsang Sangay was declared the new Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister of the Tibetan government in exile), the political head of the 6 million Tibetans worldwide. Darjeeling has reason enough to celebrate as United States based Sangay has his roots in Darjeeling and even completed his schooling in the Darjeeling Hills.
Sangay was born in 1968 at the first Tibetan settlement at Lamahatta near Darjeeling. He did his schooling from Central School for Tibetans (CST) in Darjeeling and Sonada. He did his BA in English Literature and Bachelor in Law from Delhi University. In 1995, he became a Fulbright Scholar and completed his masters at Harvard Law School.
Sangay, who at present is a Senior Fellow at the Harvard School, is an expert in international law, democratic constitutionalism and conflict resolution. Sangay was elected to the post defeating his closest rival by 8646 votes. While Sangay got 27,051 votes, Tenzing Namgyal Tethong got 18,405 votes and Tashi Wangdi 3173 votes.
T Phuntsok, teacher at the Central School for Tibetans, Darjeeling and also two years senior to Sangay in school, talking to HT, stated, "Sangay displayed leadership qualities from his early school days. He was an excellent public speaker and a debater. While he displays dynamic leadership qualities, he is a kind and generous person. Sangay sponsors supplementary diets for CSTs in Darjeeling, Sonada and Pokhriabong whole year round. He has done a lot to elevate the CSTs. We are really happy that he is our new leader. We hope to achieve a lot under his leadership."
Sangay had visited the Darjeeling Hills two months ago.
"The purpose of his visit was not to campaign but to visit the CSTs. He had also given a talk on education and professionalism," added Phuntsok.
Sangay's main forté is his ability to reach out to the younger generation.
"He is the youngest Kalon Tipa ever. His thinking is modern and appeals to the younger generation. We can connect with him easily," stated Pema Gyalpo, a Tibetan youth.
It is a time for celebration at Tashi Tsheten's residence in Ghoom, 8km from Darjeeling.
"Sangay is my first cousin. We are all very proud of him. Not because he is related to me, I am happy that we have a worthy leader. I had accompanied him during his recent tour of Darjeeling and had seen for myself how much he cares for our people, specially disadvantaged students" remarked Tashi.
In a message from the US, Sangay reportedly urged Tibetans and friends of Tibet to join him in their 'common cause to alleviate the suffering of Tibetans in occupied Tibet and to return the Dalai Lama to his rightful place in the Potala Palace.
'While I will do my utmost to fulfill the responsibility you have placed in me, the success of the next Kashag (cabinet) will depend on the engagement of all Tibetans. Together, I am confident we will march together towards a better future," stated news reports.
Voting had taken place in March 2011 when around 83,000 Tibetans had voted worldwide to elect their new Kalon Tripa. The term of office for the Kalon Tripa is five years.