Gangtok, 16 May: The 45th State Day of Sikkim was celebrated outdoors, in accordance with social distancing protocols, at Chintan Bhawan, with the Ganga Prasad, Governor of Sikkim as the Chief Guest and Prem Singh Tamang, the Chief Minister of Sikkim as the Guest of Honour.
The function was attended by various ministers, dignitaries and senior officers of the state. Khadas were offered to the statue of Lt. L. D. Kazi, the first Chief Minister of Democratic Sikkim.
Sikkim’s history is rich – shaded with various controversies and conspiracies, but leaving that behind for another day, today’s focus is to briefly introduce the recent history of the state, following the merger with India.
It is important to explain the onus of the significance of 8th May 1973, before one comes to 16th May 1975.
After the signing of the 8th May Tripartite Agreement in 1973, between the Chogyal, Government of India and the people of Sikkim, represented by the first three democratic parties of Sikkim (Sikkim Janata Congress, Sikkim National Congress and Sikkim National Party), Sikkim awoke to its democratic desires.
The agitations that followed are still in the memory of various documents and most vividly, in the older generation who lived to see Sikkim change from a monarchy to an extremely politically sensitive zone, given its proximity to China (who finally relented in calling Sikkim, India’s only in 2003) and then finally, the struggle of political parties trying to define the modern state, with the final goal being a democracy.
Sikkim’s status with India was that of an associate state, different from the protectorate state it had before.
After 1973, it was evident that people wanted nothing more than to overthrow the monarchy and write a new saga that wasn’t dictated by a single ruling family. Everyone’s aspirations to be heard and acknowledged was amplified. A quick succession of events that brought to surface the many tensions that lay within the state finally led to the fateful date of 9th April 1975, when Indian troops surrounded the Chogyal’s estate and putting him under house arrest.
Four days later, on 10th April 1975, a referendum was held, whose results declared that Sikkim would become a part of India. A month and 5 days later, Sikkim officially became the 22nd state of Independent India.
The Chief Minister’s message to the people:
“On the auspicious occasion of State Day 2020, I extend my heartiest greetings to all the Sikkimese people.
Today is the day, the people of Sikkim, opted for democracy. From that day onwards Sikkimese people have contributed to the development, prosperity and integrated with a deep bond with the country.
Sikkim has made great strides in the last 45 years and can stand proudly on the map of the country by carrying a divine identity in the vast country of India. Likewise, I would like to express my special gratitude to all the esteemed Governors who have supported the development of Sikkim.
On this occasion, I would like to reiterate our commitment to the integration of our culture, heritage, traditional practices, ethos of oneness as well as improving the living standards of our citizens. With this goal in view, my party, having taken over the reins of the government, shall march forward to restore and rekindle the torch of true democracy. Towards this end, together we shall resolve to overcome all obstacles to reach new heights of a transparent government with priorities for good education and health which are technology-driven.
This being a long process which requires diligence, I call upon all for support in the hope to provide timely opportunities for youth, socio-economic parity for women, the time-based education system for students, ease of doing business, technical and financial assistance to farmers, citizen-centric government, fear-free environment for press and media, respect for intellectual civil society.
The immediate challenge that is facing us and the world is the COVID-19 which has fazed many a mighty country. I salute all our frontline warriors who have managed to stave off the disease till date. The generosity of the people in this hour of need is unprecedented. Such a possibility could ensue only through wholehearted sincere cooperation amongst us and faith in each other.
Today, on the occasion of the State Day and by the grace of Providence, I declare our determination to achieve the goal of “CHANGE” that my Party has envisaged and overcome the imminent difficulties to keep Sikkim safe.”