Gangtok, 27 Apr:
Chief Minister Pawan Chamling will set a new record as the longest serving Chief Minister of the country on Saturday beating former West Bengal Chief Minister, Jyoti Basu's record [1977-2000]. In the last 24 years, Mr Chamling has led his Sikkim Democratic Front party from the periphery to now the centre of Sikkimese politics.
He has been elected to the State Legislative Assembly seven times and ruled the State as its Chief Minister for five consecutive terms. Pawan Chamling was first elected the Chief Minister of Sikkim on 12 Dec, 1994 and has since continued to win elections silencing critics and detractors.
Now 68 years old, Mr Chamling was born on 22 Sept, 1950, at Yangang, South Sikkim to Asha Rani Chamling and Late Aash Bahadur.
Mr Chamling's Sikkim Democratic Front has successfully combated anti-incumbency and the 'Parivartan' (change) cry of the opposition by harping on peace and sustainable development.
Sikkim adopting sustainable development goal has been highlighted by many as one of the hallmarks of his government.
"To create a new record of being the longest serving Chief Minister is historic. It is a proud moment for all Sikkimese. Hearty congratulations to CM Chamling," says journalist, Yougain Tamang.
Former president, Sikkim University's Student Association (SUSA), Patrush Lepcha, echoed similar sentiments and said that CM Chamling gave Sikkim its identity as Organic and Clean State.
"I do appreciate some steps taken by him towards the conservation of nature like green mission, plastic ban and other measures which have helped increase forest areas in the State. He really is a good and visionary leader," says Patrush.
The Chief Minister’s brave front against the West Bengal Government during the recent Gorkhaland agitation in Darjeeling hills have been appreciated by the Nepali speaking people across India.
Nanda Kirati Dewan, an Assam based journalist and an observer/activist for Indian Nepali community says that quick resolution passed by the Sikkim Assembly for the creation of Gorkhaland, raising tribal demands for 11 left out Indian Nepali communities at the Centre has made the Sikkim CM a tall leader amongst the Indian Nepali community.
Seconding the opinion, Reshu Pradhan, vice-president, Sikkim Newar Guthi states that 24 glorious years of development with so many changes in the State is a great feat.
"Of course success does not come without criticism and our CM has faced them too. But to ignore them and move ahead undeterred is what I believe has made this possible for the Chief Minister. Coming from a humble background he is an inspiration for youngsters to dream big," she adds.
However, there has been constant criticism of his government in various fronts, the main opposition, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha's Bikash Basnet says that nothing big has been achieved by the State under his leadership.
"This is no big achievement but a fulfillment of personal ambition of Pawan Kumar Chamling but the ground reality is that Sikkim is reeling under bad governance since two and a half decades," he says.
Adding further, he says that the SDF party has won all elections only with money and muscle power and there were no elections won by SDF on the basis of ideologies and fair politics.
"In addition, this is not an achievement but shows the inability of SDF to create leaders within the party, a pure form of despotism," he adds.
In the 2019 elections, Pawan Kumar Chamling and his party will be put to test again and it remains to be seen if the leader will be able to silence his critics once more and come to office for the sixth consecutive time.
On completion of Pawan Chamling's 24th year as the Chief Minister of Sikkim, here are some interesting facts:
He is the fifth Chief Minister of Sikkim and has also worked as a first class contractor. Later at the age of 22, in 1973, he actively participated in the politics which heralded a new era of democracy in Sikkim with its merger with the Indian Union. In 1975, he became the block President of Youth Congress and was elected as Secretary of Prajantantra Congress in 1978 and in 1983 he became an elected President of Yangang Gram Panchayat Unit unopposed.
Pawan Chamling became a primary member of Sikkim Sangram Parishad Party led by the former Chief Minister, N.B. Bhandari in the year 1985. In the year 1985, Pawan Chamling became the member of Sikkim Legislative Assembly and was appointed as Chairman of Sikkim Distilleries Ltd.
He was re-elected to Sikkim Legislative Assembly in 1989 from Damthang constituency with the highest vote share of 97% and was inducted as Minister of Information and Public Relation and Industries.
Pawan Chamling went underground from 19 June to 22 September, 1993 and conducted political activities from there.
On 04 Mar, 1993, Pawan Chamling formed the Sikkim Democratic Front Party and since then he has been unanimously elected as the President till today.
The Organic Mission of Sikkim was started by Pawan Chamling in the year 2003 and the State was declared as the first Organic State of India on 18 Jan, 2016 by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi. [Compiled by Yougain Tamang]