The recent memorandum submitted to the President of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), by the Bihari Jagran Manch outlines the need for certain provisions that they have demanded. Provisions like referral to hospitals, access to free medicines and more reservation in higher education seats, have been put forth in the document, but this has already garnered significant attention in the capital.
With Sikkimese citizens still wary about the BJP’s entry into the state politics, there are tensions abound in all areas with the by-polls right around the corner. Some may find festivities dampened by the massive changes that have occurred in Sikkim’s political sphere. Even though the demands aren’t political in nature and not created to intentionally hurt the sentiments of the local people, but the fact that it has been given to the BJP makes many think otherwise.
Sikkim Subject Committee vice-convenor Nawin Kiran Pradhan believes that politicians from BJP and Sikkimese parties should be crystal clear about their intention with regards to 371F and the special status of Sikkim.
“The Sikkimese people have special status and their interests are safeguarded by this act, but if various groups within the state want similar facilities, then the point becomes null. We cannot share our rights with anybody else”, he asserts.
He adds that humanitarian causes like free medication and access to education are welcomed and necessary, but unreasonable demands can’t be ignored.
“Sometimes the jobs and shop allotments are not sufficient for the Sikkimese, making provisions for other groups too would be difficult. The people can demand anything, except sharing equal rights that Sikkimese have”, he tells.
There is also the question of- “why BJP?” because people are of the opinion that the same demands could have been put towards a state party.
“I reject and condemn the memorandum submitted by Bihari Jagaran Manch. It is happening because of the weakness of our politicians and leaders to stand their political ground have resulted in such memorandums”, says Passang Sherpa, an independent candidate from Martam Rumtek constituency. “We do respect and can accommodate 400 old settlers who are staying in Sikkim prior to 26th April 1975, but not to the influx accumulated in Sikkim after that”.
Some may see this as a division of society and feel offended at the decision of the Bihari JagranManch, but only 4 days ago, they donated a cheque of Rs 1 lakh for the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. The amount was solely for the Sikkimese people trapped in the monsoon disaster at Yuksom, West Sikkim.
If we carefully observe our society, we can find that one of Sikkim’s ugly sides is that we throw around racism casually. When we call mainland citizens by names that we think are funny – “madhisey, dhoti”, we aren’t joking. We are only reinforcing the belief that they do not belong here, no matter how long their ancestors have lived and worked in Sikkim. Yes, there are laws and regulations – but if our state government and parties don’t keep all the communities of Sikkim in mind while making them, tomorrow we will wake up divided and weak.