Former Chief Minister and the President of the SDF party Pawan Chamling shares his experience in the assembly and says that Chief Minister PS Tamang’s budget speech was a disgrace to the Assembly, Sikkim and the Sikkimese people. It was a personal attack on him laced with volley of unparliamentary words. He asked the Speaker to expunge those words to no avail. He also says that the SKM party has lowered the level of politics both outside and inside the House by spreading heaps of lies. He was given only 7 minutes to speak and during that short duration Arun Upreti, Sonam Lama and PS Tamang thoroughly disturbed him as the Speaker watched as mute spectator. He says the budget is designed to please a few non-Sikkimese cronies of the Chief Minister and his colleagues and there is nothing for common Sikkimese people in the budget. The SKM government has stolen from the future pocket of Sikkimese youth to benefit their cronies
“Q. Your return to the Assembly after nearly three years was looked at with great expectation by the people of Sikkim. The Sikkim media treated it as a significant step on your part. What was your experience?
Ans. I had attended the assembly on 3 June 2019 after the new government was formed. I congratulated the Speaker and expressed my objection to the appointment of PS Tamang as Chief Minister by the Governor. He had been convicted in a cattle scam and had served a one year jail term. He was disqualified to stand in any election or hold a constitutional post until 10 August 2024 under the Constitutional Act. He had not been allowed to stand in the 2019 election. I therefore protested his appointment. The entire treasury bench had swooped down on me, using a series of unparliamentary words. Worse still, a few SKM hired goons hackled me from the public gallery, using unparliamentary words. The Speaker of the House should have sent them to police custody using his powers under the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business. But shockingly, no action has ever been taken against those goons in the past three years.
At such a backdrop, I attended the Budget Session which started on 28 March 2022. On the third day, I was given just 7 minutes to speak. As I began my speech, ministers Arun Upreti and Sonam Lama and the Chief Minister himself thoroughly disturbed me turn wise as the Speaker watched the entire undemocratic conduct as a mute spectator. Thus they deprived me of my right as a public representative to speak and ask questions. I am aghast to note that the Assembly is under the complete control of the SKM government.
If the SKM government sincerely wants an objective and constructive debate on the budget and other major political issues, I am ready to participate any day. But the fact is that they are so scared to face me that they have not slept well since I announced my return. First they tried to obstruct me by pelting stones outside the Assembly House. Then they attacked innocent people just outside the Sadar Thana in broad day light. And inside the House, first they allotted 7 minutes for me to speak and as I started three Members, including the CM himself, thoroughly disturbed me. How insecure are they? How undemocratic? How silly? They used terrorism outside by hiring goons and they used terrorism in the House by misusing their own dignified position as MLAs.
Chief Minister PS Tamang’s budget speech was an embarrassment and disgrace to the Sikkim government and the Sikkimese people. A visibly angry and bitter Chief Minister wasted three precious hours of the house in abusing me and my family using a volley of unparliamentary words. He brazenly displayed the arrogance of power. He was the personification of arrogance, hatred, anger, disrespect, meanness and bitterness. I also requested the Speaker to expunge those words used against me and my family – a request which fell on deaf ears. There is no connection between his budget speech and the actual budget. The contents are contradictory. His speech was a series of false allegations, false claims and all kinds of other lies which I will expose one by one through press conferences. As if PS Tamang’s 3 hour long hate speech in the name of a Budget speech was not enough, now the SKM party has the audacity to ask the Press Advisor to write another equally distasteful, gossipy and below the belt Press Release. Shame on them! Since the CM squandered the opportunity to present his Budget Speech, I was hoping the SKM party would salvage some pride by presenting a sound press release detailing the provisions passed in the budget. But an angry Press Advisor has nothing to say other than what his angry boss had already expressed in the House – namely a personal attack on me. One thing is clear, CM PS Tamang’s budget speech was prepared by advisor like him whose mind is empty of objective realities such as facts and figures which are the primary content of budget speeches. His heart is filled with personal hatred and bitterness. This is not a game for street fighters. This is a political battle for the future of Sikkim. The SKM must utilize the precious time, position and power given to them by the people to shape Sikkim’s future. Do not misuse them in abusing me. Grow up.
I ask the SKM government to think about the following serious issues instead of scolding me all the time.
What happened to your election promises announced in your election manifesto such as jobs for 30,000 youth, a monthly unemployment allowances of Rs 10,000, an annual housewife allowance of Rs 5 lakh, increasing the private sector employees minimum monthly wages to Rs 20,000, distributing free vehicles to drivers, sponsoring their two children’s education in private schools, granting 15% North East special allowances for government employees, regularizing OFOJ, MR and Ad Hoc employees? On the contrary, there is no provision for any of these promises in the budget even after three years of governance. Where is their shame?
There is zero budgetary allocation for the construction of physical infrastructure (school buildings) for primary and secondary schools. On the contrary, a huge percentage of the education budget has been diverted to the Centre of Excellence in Chakhung which is a private institute.
What happened to the Economic Revival Committee? The SKM government is blind to the untold misery of people caused by the two and a half year long Covid pandemic. The budget has no provision to mitigate the farmers’ distress, the crumbling rural economy and the hundreds of small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises that have either died or are on the verge of collapse.
What happened to the Covid Relief Fund granted by the Centre? I demand that the State Government present a white paper on it.
The total budget of three years of SKM governance amounts to Rs 35560 crore which is equal to the total budget of the 24 year long SDF governance. People want to know what happened to such a massive sum of money during the last three years under the SKM’s watch? Where did the money go? I will expose the details in my press conferences.
The list of ad hoc teachers has been finally released but the appointment orders have not been given yet. First, many eligible candidates who fulfilled all the criteria have not been selected and ineligible candidates have been selected. How long does it take to hand over an appointment order? Since last year, the Education Department has been saving a enormous amount of money from teachers’ salaries by discontinuing the ad hoc teachers’ jobs, delaying their interviews, delaying the announcement of results and now by delaying their appointment orders. Where is that money being utilized?
This Budget is designed to help and please the non-Sikkimese cronies of Chief Minister PS Tamang and make the Sikkimese people cry. This budget steals money from the future pockets of Sikkimese youth and has diverted it to a few multi-crore corporate companies for the personal benefit of the Chief Minister and a few of his colleagues. The SKM government took an enormous loan in the name of the people of Sikkim and gave it to those multi-crore companies. Sikkim will have to cry for many years to come in the future because of such gross crony-capitalism.
I ask the Health Department why those doctors and health department staff who participated in the Dr. Sanjay Upreti murder protest rally were transferred ?
The SKM party has already lowered the level of Sikkim politics both outside and inside the House. The heap of lies that they created outside the House has now been taken into the House. They have not only humiliated me but they have most importantly defiled the dignity and sanctity of the house. I sternly warn them to rise above these cheap politics of lies and personal attacks and serve Sikkim in a manner that befits a civilised and respectable society.”
Secretary, Publicity Affairs