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Pawan Chamling overtakes Jyoti Basu to become India’s longest serving CM

Pawan Chamling became the chief minister of Sikkim on December 12, 1994, and has ruled the tiny Himalayan state ever since.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2018 16:53 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Siliguri
Pawan Chamling,Sikkim CM,Jyoti Basu
Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling was elected to the Sikkim assembly for the first time in 1985.(AFP Photo)

Pawan Chamling on Sunday will create history by surpassing the record of former communist ruler of West Bengal, Jyoti Basu, as the longest serving chief minister in the country.

Chamling, 68, touched Basu’s record on Saturday and wrote a long post on his Facebook page. “As I cross a personal milestone, I would like to remember fondly all those who have been a part of this journey of more than two decades. First and foremost, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the people of Sikkim for reposing their faith in me by giving their mandate for five record consecutive terms,” he wrote.

“I also offer my homage to Late Shri Jyoti Basu ji, a great statesman for whom I have the highest respects and whose record stint as Chief Minister, I am fortunate to surpass,” he wrote. “I have never taken a day off from my duties, often forgoing my personal commitments.”

Chamling became the chief minister of Sikkim on December 12, 1994, and has ruled the tiny Himalayan state ever since. He is also the president of Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF).

Basu was the chief minister of Bengal for five consecutive terms from June 21, 1977 to November 6, 2000. He did not complete his fifth term due to health reasons and handed the charge over to Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.

Chamling, who also writes poetry, joined politics in 1973, and was elected to the Sikkim assembly for the first time in 1985. He has four sons and four daughters.

“I dedicate this feat to my parents, the people of Sikkim, my party and the government of India,” Chamling told the media in Gangtok on Saturday. He is credited for Sikkim’s firm place in the tourism field and has made organic farming mandatory.

“Chamling once told me that he would be very happy if he could break Basu’s record,” said Asok Bhattacharya, senior CPI(M) leader who was the four-time municipal affairs minister in Bengal. But Opposition parties accuse the state government of “rampant corruption”.

Earlier in the week, former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia announced his entry into Sikkim politics by floating a new party Hamro Sikkim. He said the party will be represented by clear and credible faces, in an apparent dig at the ruling SDF.

The assembly elections will be held in Sikkim in 2019.

In 2014 elections, the ruling SDF won 22 seats, while Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) won 10. At present, while SKM?has only 2 MLAs, SDF has 29, thanks to defections. There is a lone Independent MLA, who happens to be Pawan Chamling’s brother.

First Published: Apr 28, 2018 23:10 IST