Sikkim Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch claims Financial Bill 2023 hints Sikkim-Darjeeling merger
After the Finance Bill 2023 was passed by the lower house, various organizations and individuals from Sikkim rejected the bill. However, the Sikkim Darjelling Ekikaran Manch, an organization advocating for the merger of Sikkim and Darjeeling, claimed that the bill hinted at Sikkim Darjeeling merger.
The organisation based on sections (iv) and (v), which provide exemptions for individuals domiciled in Sikkim before April 26, 1975, or whose family members were domiciled in Sikkim before that date. Bikram Chamling, Vice President of the Sikkim-Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch at Chok Bazar during the wall postering campaign said, “We feel that the Finance Bill 2023 is a hint from the Centre for Sikkim-Darjeeling merger in the near future. We are in favor of the Sikkim-Darjeeling merger and we would like to appeal to the people of Sikkim”
Posters reading “२५ मार्च २०२३ मा लोकसभामा केन्द्रिय वित्त-मंत्री निर्मला सीतारमणबाट वित्तिय बिल ल्याईदिएर दार्जीलिङ वासीहरूलाई पनि सिक्किम वर्गीकरण भित्र समावेश गरिदिनु भएकोमा सिक्किम- दार्जीलिंग एकिकरण मंच द्वारा स्वागत जनाँउदछौं । सिक्किम दार्जीलिंग एकीकरण मंच.”
Meaning “Sikkim Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch welcomes the inclusion of Darjeeling residents under Sikkimese classification through Finance Bill brought in the Lok Sabha by Union Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, on March 25, 2023.”
“२५ मार्च २०२३ मा सिक्किमे परिभाषा भित्र दार्जीलिङ वासीलाई समावेश गरिएको बिलले, सिक्किम-दार्जीलिङ, एकिकरणको मुद्दालाई टेवा पुयाई बंगाल-बाट अलग हुने मार्ग प्रशस्त भएको छ. सिक्किम दार्जीलिङ एकिकरण मंच”
Meaning, “The Bill that has included Darjeeling residents under Sikkimese Definition on March 25, 2023, has strengthened Sikkim-Darjeeling merger issue and paved the way for division of Darjeeling from Bengal. Sikkim Darjeeling Ekikaran Manch” was wall-pasted by the organisation in process to extend gratitude towards the Centre government for passing the Finance Bill 2023.
After the AOSS vs. Union of India judgement on January 13, which favoured AOSS, sections granting IT exemptions to old settlers of Sikkim were included in the Finance Bill 2023 and presented to the lower house of parliament. On February 25, the bill was passed without discussion in the house.
The bill, tabled in Parliament on February 1, 2023, by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, proposed to amend Section 10 Clause 26AAA of the Finance Act to extend income tax exemptions to Sikkimese individuals who meet certain criteria, including being recorded in the Register of Sikkim Subjects before April 26, 1975, or being the child, spouse, or grandchild of someone recorded in that register.
Many including Socio-Political Organizations, individuals and independent politicians from Sikkim have questioned the absence of Indra Hang Subba, the lone Member of Parliament for Sikkim, during the passage of the bill.