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Pawan Chamling: A farmer-poet to India's longest serving chief minister

Wednesday, 21 May 2014 - 12:19pm IST | Place: Gangtok | Agency: PTI
  • pawan-chamling Pawan Chamling

A farmer hailing from a remote village, five-time Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling never looked back ever since he started his political career from the grass-root level.

In power non-stop for the last two decades, the 63-year-old Chamling's Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) has successfully combated anti-incumbency and the 'Parivartan' (change) cry of the opposition by harping on peace and sustainable development. Known for his love for the environment, he is often called the "greenest chief minister of India".

Under his leadership, Sikkim became the first state in India to start a green mission, managed to increase its forest cover and is on its way to become India's first organic state by 2015.

Now on his way to surpass the late communist patriarch Jyoti Basu's record as the longest consecutive serving chief minister, he had began his life as a farmer and then a contractor.

His work in rural areas brought him close to the people and was elected unopposed as the president of Yangang Gram Panchayat in 1982. Three years later Chamling was elected as an MLA on a ticket by Sikkim Sangram Parishad (SSP) and also inducted into the Nar Bahadur Bhandari cabinet. Such was his popularity that in 1989, a mind-boggling 96 per cent votes were cast in his favour from the Damthang Assembly constituency.

With time Chamling's relation with Bhandari soured and he publicly called the government "autocratic" in 1992 leading to upheavals in the Assembly. A year later, he founded his own party SDF and in the 1994 polls managed to secure a majority in the Assembly.

He has never looked back since as the party kept on winning the 2004, 2009 and the latest 2014 state Assembly polls. The outgoing Assembly was unique in that business was transacted in a matter of minutes because of the absence of any Opposition, with the SDF having all the 32 seats.

This year, however, the newly-formed Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) debuted with 10 seats. The SKM has been founded by dissident MLA Prem Singh Tamang, also known as Golay.

Literature buffs in Sikkim know their chief minister as Pawan Chamling Kiran - his pen name. After his first poem 'Bir Ko Parichay' in 1967, he has written and published three collections of poems - 'Antahin Sapana Mero Bipana', 'Mo Ko Hun' and 'Praramvik Kavita Haroo'.

He has been awarded twice by the Sikkim Sahitya Parishad - Chintan Puraskar in 1987 for the best poem and Bhanu Puraskar in 2010. Poets Foundation in Kolkata had awarded him in 2001 for his lifetime achievement in literature. An author of many books in Nepali, English and Hindi, he is also a publisher. Nirman Publication has so far published 100 books by 55 new as well as well-known writers.

Chamling also publishes Nirman, a monthly literary magazine from his home town.




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