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30 Apr 2018

CM claims emotional integration of Sikkim.... 'Biggest contribution of SDF rule'

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Apr 30, 2018, Gangtok: Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling on Sunday said one of the biggest contributions of his 24-year-old rule had been the emotional integration of the people of the state with the rest of the country and other frontier states should learn from Sikkim

The erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim joined the Indian union in 1975.

Chamling was speaking to reporters at his official residence, Mintokgang, here where streams of Sikkim Democratic Front supporters poured in from early morning to congratulate him on becoming the longest-serving chief minister of the country.

"Sikkim merged with India on April 26, 1975, after the people voted in favour of joining India. Since then, the people of Sikkim have been working for the country with dedication and set an example to the country. There is no anti-national feeling in Sikkim. Since the time the SDF came to power (on December 12, 1994), and I became the chief minister, in this span of 24 years, our government has managed to achieve the emotional integration of Sikkim (with the country)," he said.

Sikkim officially merged with India on May 16, 1975, but the 36 constitutional amendment making Sikkim the country's 22nd state had come into effect on April 26 that year. Sikkim celebrates May 16 as its Statehood Day.

Chamling said the biggest achievement of his government, though, was maintaining peace in the sensitive border state at a time when there is growing unrest throughout the world and the people are craving for peace. "My biggest contribution is to maintain peace. Sikkim is a sensitive state. There is Bhutan on the one side, Nepal on the other and China in yet another. But despite that, Sikkim is one state where there peace and security is most prevalent," he claimed.

The chief minister also said other sensitive border states should learn from Sikkim on how to maintain peace.

"Other states must learn on how to keep a border state peaceful. The people of Jammu and Kashmir and the north-eastern states must learn from Sikkim. The country must also appreciate how a sensitive and border state (Sikkim) is progressing at a rapid pace," he said.

Observers are interpreting this as an attempt to reach out to a national audience at a time when, by Chamling's own claim, his record-breaking feat became the "talk of the country".

Asked about the reservation of seats in the Assembly for the Limbu and Tamang communities, which many believe would be a major issue in the elections slated for next year, Chamling iterated that the ball was in the Centre's court.

"The Centre has agreed in principle to increase the number of seats to 40. All the work to be done by the state government has been done. The Union government can bring a Presidential ordinance and carry out delimitation or get the Parliament to pass it. It is now in the hands of the Centre," he said.

Out of the 32 Assembly seats in the state, the Limbus and Tamangs can play a decisive role in as many 16 seats in the South and West districts, which the SDF had swept in 2014.

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