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Lok Sabha Elections 2014: The charm that Pawan Kumar Chamling has cast on Sikkim

Saturday, 12 April 2014 - 9:22am IST

  • Pawan-Kumar-Chamling

Pawan Kumar Chamling has ruled Sikkim for 20 years and if he wins once again, it will be the beginning of a new political history and if he loses history will repeat itself.

It was communist patriarch Jyoti Basu who has to his name a record that no other politician in India has been able to break even after his death in 2010. Basu was chief minister of West Bengal for 23 years, the longest serving chief minister in India.  Basu was a stalwart of Left politics having political recognition beyond party lines.

Today, Sikkim is polling for assembly polls along with the lone Lok sabha seat it has. If the electorates of Sikkim vote in favour of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) then the 63 years old chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, would go on to break Basu’s record and finding a place in India political history. Chamling is Sikkim’s chief minister for past 20 years; he assumed charge in 1994 and ever since has never lost.

SDF is in power with no opposition inside the assembly. In the last assembly polls in 2009 , the regional party that Chamling had formed in 1993 , had own all the 32 seats.The Sangha seat reserved for the Buddhist monks, is also in SDF’s kitty. Since 1994, SDF has won assembly polls four times on a trot.

Sikkim was a monarchy that merged with India in 1975, it was ruled by the Chogyal dynasty. During those days the condition of the state was shabby. No infrastructure, no income generation and to top it all the state was landlocked. Today Sikkim is a name in eco tourism, it is also known to be one of the best managed small states in the country .Sikkim has the lowest number of Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in the country. Its per capita income  is way ahead of the national average. Thus Chamling is fighting the election on the plank of making everyone in Sikkim a crorepati, his aim is total eradication of poverty from the state by 2017.

Pawan Chamling had a very humble beginning. At the age of 32, when he was first elected as president of Yangang Gram Panchayat in 1982. Three years later, in 1985, he was elected to the Sikkim Legislative Assembly for the first time on the ticket of Sikkim Sangram Parishad (SSP) led by Nar Bahadur Bhandari. 

In 1989 he became a MLA from Damthang. Bhandari, who was the chief minister then, made Chamling a minister with major portfolios in his cabinet. Soon Chamling started to gain political importance and resulted into a clash with Bhandari. Finally in 1993, Chamling broke-off and formed SDF in 1993. Riding on a wave of anti –incumbency against Bhandari, popularity of a new face that Chamling was at that time , SDF came to power in Sikkim in the 1994 Assembly polls, after that there has been no looking back.

In Sikkim, the opposition had labeled Chamling as a corrupt and dictator. Oppositions were turned into nothing when in 2009 assembly polls SDF won all the 32 seats. But Chamling has started getting the jolts.SDF MLA Prem Singh Tamang, better known as PS Golay, decided to part ways and formed Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), in 2013. He is becoming very popular. This election, the former CM Bhandari and his party the SSP, is also supporting Golay. He has tried to put up fresh faces, tried to expose Chamling and his family and even put up a young candidate against the chief minister.

But is seems Golay has a long way to go before he can upset Chamling, Sikkim would decide is Chamling’s cham is still oozing or not.

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