By Jiwan Rai

One of the first things success gives rise to is arrogance. And one of the first things arrogance causes is a downfall. Many in the SDF learnt this in the 2019 elections. The party was filled with people who were foolishly oozing overconfidence. A senior journalist pointed out that the party headquarters seemed more like a secretariat with a babugiri attitude in the air. Defeat, to a large extent, was self-imposed. Another wrote- some of them demanded support rather than begging for it.

The jolt of the shock was much harder than the party was prepared to bear. The longevity of their post-defeat silence and pause are suggestive of the party’s delayed healing. The vestige of the party’s confidence suffered a further rupture by the trauma of many party leaders either going into hibernation or flying the coop one after the other. A negligible number showed resilience to hold the fort with the party chief. A section of political pundits, dismissing the remaining SDF supporters as no-hopers, sounded the death knell. ‘Chamling is finished’ has been a provisional declaration and for now, that divides people into two groups –those who believe it and those who refuse to believe it.

The next elections are more than four years away. The ruling SKM party has been receiving party hoppers from the SDF willy-nilly, thus becoming numerically stronger. The SKM hogs the political limelight in the state despite the BJP frantically trying to deflect some public attention to it. PS Goley is the man of the hour and some politically ambitious men and women are revolving around him. As Chief Minister, he has deservedly been the epicentre of Sikkim news, enjoying a huge media space locally.
Would anyone be even interested to see what the future holds for the SDF? Would anyone be interested to know what Pawan Chamling has to say?
The 28th Foundation Day celebration at SDF Bhawan partially answers the question. Make no mistake about it, it has a message for both the SDF and SKM.

The SDF saw a glimpse of a revival hope. What the SKM must realize is that the gathering was telling for several reasons. With the general elections still aeons of years away, why would people even come to celebrate the SDF foundation day with such gusto? Generally people gravitate to the opposition parties only towards the fag end of the term of government. Youth constituted a huge chunk in the crowd and most of them were educated. People apparently came on their own, hiring vehicles. The atmosphere was too intensely euphoric to ignore. Given unmistakable deadness that characterized the party after the poll defeat nine months ago, it was nothing short of a sign of miraculous resuscitation.

The SDF Chief, Pawan Chamling, visibly lively and upbeat said all the right things. The loudest of cheers came when he apologized for all the ‘mistakes, sins and iniquities’ committed by his leadership. He went so far as to say that he has been told by people what his flaws were and he has remorsefully admitted them all. The SDF party needed this defeat to step back and honestly look at the backlog of flaws, introspect on its actions and thoughts, calculate its liabilities and re-strategize a way forward to harness its unexploited potential.

What the SDF party must realize is that although the party chief’s public confession of mistakes has helped it get the monkey off its back, people still want to see change on the ground. Some in its leadership still behave like obnoxious incumbent ministers and MLAs. Nothing damages the image of a party more severely than arrogance. In cricket parlance, they are like poor fielders who drop catches, move slowly while chasing the ball, often miss the catches from between the legs and their throws from the deep are loopy and misdirected. The captain hides them from strategically. They need to either change or be hidden from the public gaze.

The SDF party must realize is that the some in the crowd were there, not so much because of their fondness for the SDF, but due to their frustration with the arrogance of some in the SKM. Hemlal Basnet who left the SKM party to join the SDF party highlighted this in his joining speech.

Now both the main regional parties in Sikkim are in a tight spot. The SKM party has the burden of fulfilling its many poll promises and not repeating the mistakes committed by its archrival party. Denying Chamling’s relevance to Sikkim politics will be fatal for the SKM. They have to admit it and contest it with all honesty. He is all out to reconnect with the grassroots wherein lies his biggest strength. The videos released by the party show how happy they are welcoming him. The SDF party has the burden of proving their confessed repentance. There are three kinds of people who caused the party’s self-demolition in the 2019 election. One, those who used their closeness with the party president to bully others and in the process isolated him from his true supporters. Two, those who are too arrogant and obnoxiously too conscious of their position and power. Three, those who always speak sweet things, dangerously blinding the party chief from ugly ground realities. The SKM chief must note such people, too. They are everywhere.

“The SDF party must realize is that the some in the crowd were there, not so much because of their fondness for the SDF, but due to their frustration with the arrogance of some in the SKM. Hemlal Basnet who left the SKM party to join the SDF party highlighted this in his joining speech.”

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