History could be repeating itself in Sikkim. While Pawan Chamling had managed to dethrone the then chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari towing the “democracy” line; the same issue is now being used by a Sikkim Democratic Front Member Legislative Assembly to launch a similar political maneuver.
Chamling on September 9, 1992, then a rebel Sikkim Sangram Parishad MLA, had searched for democracy in the State Assembly during the zero hour with a lit candle. Soon he floated the SDF on March 4, 1993. SDF first came to power in Sikkim after winning the assembly elections in 1994.
Though the prop was different, Prem Singh Golay, the rebel SDF MLA of Upper Burtuk chose a non-political rally to lash out against his party and political mentor Chamling.
A rally made its way through the streets of the Sikkim Capital Gangtok on Wednesday in support of Anna Hazare along with condemning the “The Sikkim Prevention and Control of Disturbance of Public Order Bill.”
This bill had been tabled by Chamling in the Sikkim Assembly on August 11. With strong resistance from the opposition parties, apolitical organisations and an advisory from the Governor, the Sikkim Government on August 16 had declared that the Bill would be withdrawn.
The proposed bill contains a section which reads “Holding of procession, hunger strike or squatting or shouting of slogans or waving black flags or other such agitation methods, tendency or potentiality of promoting enmity or hatred or disaffection between groups or sections or communities on grounds of religion, race or caste shall be deemed to be disturbance of public order” and is punishable by imprisonment of five years and a fine of Rs. 50,000/-.
The rally from Deorali to Palzor stadium, Gangtok was organized by the Nagarik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan (NASS) an apolitical organization. A few days ago Golay had made a public appeal asking one and all to support the rally. Though Golay himself did not take part in the rally, it was no secret that the rally enjoyed Golay’s patronage.
Later talking to HT, Golay stated that he opposes the “Black Bill” and the undemocratic ways of the SDF party. “Because I belong to the SDF does not mean that I will start calling black as white. Black will always remain black. The Black Bill intends to rob the Sikkim citizens of their Fundamental Rights hence it is unconstitutional.” retorted Golay.
Referring to Chamling’s quest for “democracy” with a candle, Golay questioned “That has become history. Chamling himself is leaving no stones unturned to erase that part of history. Where is democracy in Sikkim?”
Golay alleged that the people of Sikkim were fed up with the undemocratic stifling environment. “They want to come out in the streets and protest. Today’s rally is just the beginning” feels Golay.
When questioned as to whether he is ready to break out from the SDF and float his own party, the dissident leader stated “If the public want me to lead, I am ready.”
Reacting to the allegations PD Rai, SDF Member of Parliament and Spokesperson talking to HT stated “These are baseless allegations. A party does not turn undemocratic overnight. Golay has been an MLA four times and a Minister three times. For him to suddenly say that SDF is undemocratic is very unfortunate. As the people dubbed the Bill draconian, the Government decided to withdraw it. Isn’t this democracy?” Rai said that as he is in Delhi at present he would not be able to immediately state if the SDF would initiate any action against Golay for his comments.
Golay has been an SDF MLA for four terms (1994, 1999, 2004 and 2009,) since SDF’s inception. However with difference cropping up between him and Chamling, he has been allegedly sidelined. On the other hand Golay has been avoiding Assembly sessions along with all SDF party programmes.
After winning thrice from his constituency Soreng in West Sikkim his was changed to a new constituency Upper Burtuk in East Sikkim. His wings were further clipped with his removal from the cabinet after his victory in the 2009 State Assembly elections from Upper Burtuk. Prior to this he had served as a Minister for three terms.