SDF accuses SKM of Sikkim-Darj merger plans


Gangtok, 28 July:

Sikkim Democratic Front today accused SKM president, Chief Minister PS Tamang, of being the “main agent” promoting the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger idea and highlighted some past incidents and latest developments to argue that there was a substantial body of evidence to establish this inclination of the Chief Minister.

The party has also contended that there was a Constitutional crisis in the State with a minority government in office, headed by a person who is disqualified from holding any constitutional posts and which is now going to present an “illegal” budget.

Addressing a press conference here today, SDF spokesperson, MK Subba, lashed out against the SKM government, accusing it of distracting the people with noise even as it covertly conspires to promote the Sikkim-Darjeeling idea.

He also suggested that the dispensation in Delhi too was keen on such a merger and warned today that the SDF will oppose any such moves with all its might.

Mr Subba pointed out that Gorkha Rashtriya Congress, a Darjeeling-based political party lobbying for Sikkim-Darjeeling merger, had recently confirmed at a press conference in Kurseong that it had submitted a memorandum on the merger to Mr Tamang when he was still a Minister in the SDF Government in the past.

SDF, he pointed out, was always opposed to the merger proposal and kept its distance from the issue even as it condemned the proposal. Mr Tamang, however, met with the proponents of the merger and this should be seen as tacit support.

Mr Subba added that the recent appointment of Prof Mahendra P Lama as the Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of Sikkim also reinforced the support SKM has for the merger proposal since Prof Lama has been a promoter of the merger idea.

SDF spokersperson, Avinash Yakha, added that Prof Lama has also promoted the idea of Sikkim-Darjeeling merger in his writings for regional papers and added that now that he has been appointed to advise the State Government on myriad issues, this proposal is bound to get more traction. This merger was always a hidden agenda of the SKM, and now that it is office, the party was staffing itself with merger sympathizers, he said.

The SDF, they reiterated, will continue to oppose and thwart any such moves.

Mr Subba also reiterated SDF’s position that since SKM was reduced to a minority on the Legislative Assembly, its continuing in office was against the Constitution of India. SKM currently has 16 MLAs in the 32-member Assembly, and since it has also appointed the Speaker, it has an effective strength of 15 in the floor of the House, he explained.

“This minority government continues in office without a floor test and to register our protest against this and the continuing of Mr Tamang as chief minister despite being disqualified from even contesting elections, SDF will be boycotting the upcoming Budget Session,” he announced.

He also informed that the party has written to the Governor highlighting this issue and requesting him to update the President of India according and impose President’s Rule in Sikkim until the by-elections. With three constituencies going to bypolls, the make-up of the Assembly could change. Of the 29 MLAs in the House, SKM has 16 and SDF 13.

Returning to the appointment of Prof Lama as the chief economic adviser, the SDF spokespersons accused the SKM of double-speak on local protection, pointing out that the same party had raised a stink when a non-local was appointed to a mid-level post by the SDF government and was now appointing a tainted person to a Cabinet status post.

Prof Lama, they pointed out, is facing sexual harassment charges and has been accused of ignoring local interests blatantly when he was serving here as the Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University.

They also reminded SKM that its leaders TN Dhakal and Shiva Kumar Timsina had spoken strongly against Prof Lama in the past and appear to forgotten all that now.

The SDF spokespersons also came down heavily on Chief Secretary AK Shrivastava whom they likened to an SKM youth leader eager to please his political bosses.

They condemned the recent circular issued by the Chief Secretary to all Heads of Departments directing them not to endorse requests to extend services of temporary employees upon the completion of their tenures.

"We demand the immediate withdrawal of the notification," they said.

They stressed that all temporary employees of the State Government were people who needed such employment and rued that instead of regularizing their services as it had promised to do in its election manifesto, SKM was indulging in revenge politics by wanting to remove them just because they were appointed by the SDF government.

They have also demanded that grants and benefits to the public be released through elected panchayats and not by committees of the SKM party.

Further they have asked the government to immediately release all the remaining grants alloted by the previous SDF government to the people and not play vindictive politics.