Bhaichung accuses SDF Govt of double-speak on LT seats

Gangtok, 10 Feb:

Hamro Sikkim Party working president, Bhaichung Bhutia, today accused the SDF Government of double-speak on the Limboo and Tamang seat reservation issue. Addressing a press conference here today, he contended that the Chief Minister was saying different things on the matter to the Centre and the people here.

Mr Bhutia contends that the State Government’s demand with the centre was for Scheduled Tribe seats and not specifically LT seats.

The Limboos and Tamangs have a constitutional right to reserved seats in the State Legislature by virtue of having been included in the Scheduled Tribes list. Sikkim, it may be recalled, does not have reserved ST seats.

Mr Bhutia today argued that while the CM petitions the Centre of ST seats, in speeches here he refers to them as LT seats. The two, he insists, are not interchangeable.

Continuing on this theme, he pointed out that the memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister on 15 June, 2016 signed by the Chief Minister, 28 MLAs and two MPs of Sikkim seeks reservation of ST seats in Sikkim Legislative Assembly and not LT seats.

“Even in the reservation table submitted to the PM, LT seat reservation is demanded only in brackets while seeking 20 ST seats. This means that LT seat reservation is possible only when the 11 left-out communities are declared as ST. Do the Limboos and Tamangs have to wait till the 11 left out communities become tribals?” he queried.

Mr Bhutia also claimed today that when an HSP delegation called on Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and enquired after the LT seats, they were told that the SDF Government has sought reservation of ST seats.

“The Minister said that the Centre was confused due to the memorandum of the Sikkim government and said that it seems there is no seriousness on the part of the State government,” Mr Bhutia alleged.

HSP has now demanded that the State government send a new memorandum to the Centre and this time clearly seek LT seats and not ST seats.

Mr Bhutia further claimed the Centre has rejected the 40-seat formula of the State government and that a letter from MHA has sought a fresh proposal to reserve LT seats.

On HSP’s formula, Mr Bhutia said the first priority for the party will be deliver the LT seats.

“We will keep this formula open whether it is 32, 34, 40 or even 50 seats, we will keep it open. The main priority is to find which formula can deliver LT seats at the earliest. We do not want something like the 40-seat formula of the CM which makes the rounds of various Ministries for 5-6 years and does not deliver anything. When HSP comes to power, we will keep the formula open, we will invite representatives of various Ministries and our representatives of Sikkim government, we will sit down and discuss and prepare the formula which will give the LT seats at the earliest,” he said.

The meet was also attended by the HSP spokesperson, party general secretary Biraj Adhikari, vice president, DS Limboo, and joint secretary [administration], Yogen Rai.