New Delhi, 26 Apr:
Bhaichung Bhutia today announced his formal entry into Sikkim politics with the unveiling of his political party, ‘Hamro Sikkim Party,’ at a press conference convened here at the Press Club of India.
Mr Bhutia was joined at the announcement event by fellow founding-members, Dilip Rai, Indra Hang Subba, MN Dahal, Dr Bina Basnett, DS Limboo and Yogen Rai.
Announcing the name of the party, Dilip Rai said that one of the main objectives of the party is to fight for the rights of Sikkimese people and deliver the messages of Sikkimese people in the right places at the Centre.
Mr Rai further informed that the party will be officially launched in Sikkim within two weeks.
Another founding member, DN Dahal while interacting with the media said that HSP is a party for the youth of Sikkim.
“Our vision and plans are to safeguard the upcoming generations of youth in Sikkim. We want our youth to decide and build what kind of State they want to live in,” Mr Dahal added.
Speaking on the 2019 State Assembly Elections, Mr Dahal said that at the moment the party’s main focus is to ‘seek justice for the people of Sikkim’.
“Election is secondary,” he said.
Talking about whether Bhaichung Bhutia will lead the party, Mr Dahal clarified that although Bhaichung Bhutia is a ‘key member’ of the party, HSP is not Bhaichung’s party.
Dr Bina Basnett, another founding member and former medical officer said that she quit her job in New Delhi and joined the party three months ago.
“We complain about the system but we do not want to change it. We need to come forward and be the change that we want. I urge all youth and women to join politics and be the agents of change,” Dr Basnett said.
Founding member and research scholar, Indra Hang Subba said, “We have been dragged into politics due to the prevailing situation in Sikkim. Youth are now coming into politics as there are many unresolved issues in the State.”
He spoke about the shortcomings in higher education sector in Sikkim especially the delay in completion of the permanent campus of Sikkim University.
Addressing the media, Bhaichung Bhutia reiterated Mr Dahal’s statement and said that the party does not belong to him.
“HSP belongs to the people of Sikkim. I have no personal ambitions in this party and I don’t see myself as the president of this party or the Chief Minister candidate. I just want to work for the people of Sikkim,” he said.
“It took me 20 years to build a name for myself. I promise I will not sacrifice that for politics,” he added.
Mr Bhutia also said that the party will focus on unemployment, high suicide rate, drug abuse and disproportionate development in the state.
“While we have a fragile environment, what is the need to have 29-30 hydel power projects? On the other hand, despite having so many power projects, uninterrupted power supply has still not reached a large part of the state. And while we vouch for organic farming, agricultural lands are being taken away by pharmaceutical companies. We need development but a sustainable one. Even today, a tarred road has not reached my village,” he added.
He also informed the media about the founding members' decision to launch the party in New Delhi.
Mr Bhutia said that lot of issues in the State needs direct attention from the Central Government. He said that the party will have ‘clean persons’ who will bring various issues from Sikkim to Delhi and speak firmly with the Centre to come up with solutions.
“We wanted to reach out to the leaders here in Delhi through this press conference. We want Delhi to hear about our problems,” he added.
Highlighting the alleged corruption in the State, Mr Bhutia urged the Chief Minister Pawan Chamling to lift the ban on entry of Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] in Sikkim.
“Let those accused of corruption be proven innocent through CBI investigations,” he said.
Mr Bhutia said that an HSP member will be allowed to enjoy a certain position only twice, be it that of Chief Minister, party president or even MLA.
He further criticized the state government on its failure regarding Limboo-Tamang Assembly seat reservation. He added that the party will work for the Nepali communities and fight for reservation of Assembly seats.
“HSP has got qualified and promising youth of Sikkim as members. The youth have realized that they have to come into politics due to the prevailing conditions in Sikkim. If we do not speak up now, the coming generation in Sikkim will be in big trouble,” he said.
Bhaichung further informed that there are many youths of Sikkim who want to come and join the movement of HSP.
“We will be reaching out to the people and come up with our manifesto dedicated to the people of Sikkim. This is not my party; this is our party and a party of the people of Sikkim,” he said.
On raising funds for the party, Mr Bhutia said it is a big challenge and they hope to raise funds through crowd funding.
The coming elections in Sikkim will be ‘clean money’ versus ‘black money’, he said.
When asked who will be the president and Chief Ministerial candidate of HSP, Mr Bhutia said that the party president will be a great and deserving person.
“We will announce our president when we launch our party,” he informed.
Asked if he will contest the elections, Mr Bhutia said, “If my party wants, I will contest the elections.”