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29 Apr 2018

Chamling set to beat Jyoti Basu record

Pawan Chamling in Sikkim on Saturday. Telegraph picture
Rajeev Ravidas, TT, Apr 29, 2018, Gangtok: Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling is a day shy of breaking the late Jyoti Basu's record for the longest stint as head of an Indian state government.

The CPM, the party to which Basu belonged, is therefore poised to lose a second record after 2011, when Mamata Banerjee ended its 34-year rule in Bengal.

Basu was Bengal chief minister for 8,358 days - from June 21, 1977, to November 5, 2000 - which the man from Yangang village in North Sikkim equalled on Saturday and will surpass on Sunday. Chamling became chief minister on December 12, 1994.

"The credit goes to my mother and father," the 67-year-old Sikkim Democratic Front leader said. "I also want to give credit to the people of Sikkim because of whose trust, support and blessings I have had the opportunity to serve them."

Basu called it a day at the age of 86 although he lived for 10 more years. "Our chief minister will go on and set a record that will be impossible to surpass," an SDF insider said.

Chamling does have age on his side and has a year left of his term. Many believe that Chamling will be a strong contender for another term when Sikkim votes in mid-2019.

Asked about his plans, Chamling said: "I may be old in body but not in mind."

Although Basu's long stint drew international attention, the communists, officially averse to hero worship, never celebrated his record.

Sources close to Chamling said he had no plans to celebrate, either, but his supporters would felicitate him at his residence.

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