Sikkim journalists voice opinions and analysis on recently held budget session
Among the MLAs, DR Thapa and Pawan Chamling played a pivotal role by raising several questions of public concern in the Assembly writes NIRMAL MANGAR
The recently concluded four-day budget session in Sikkim witnessed a remarkable focus on public issues and articulated discussions. As a journalist with years of experience covering assembly sessions, I have observed that this session stood out due to its dedication to addressing the concerns of the people.
In a democratic system, it is the people who vote for leaders to represent them in the assembly. This session demonstrated the significance of this process as the MLAs actively raised questions and engaged in meaningful discussions related to public concerns. Their commitment to serving their constituencies was evident throughout the session.
Among the MLAs, DR Thapa and Pawan Chamling played a pivotal role by raising several questions of public concern in the Assembly.
Their efforts showcased a genuine commitment to addressing pressing issues faced by the citizens of Sikkim. Additionally, other MLAs such as GT Dhungel, Am Prasad, Raj Kumari Thapa, YT Lepcha, KS Lepcha, Sunita Gazmer, Pintso Namgyal Lepcha, Farwanti Tamang, and Aditya Golay raised pertinent questions regarding their respective constituencies.
This wide range of engagement reflects a comprehensive approach to addressing the concerns of different regions within Sikkim.
The Treasury bench, along with the Leader of the house, PS Tamang, deserves recognition for their active participation in responding to the questions raised by other members. Their commitment to providing meaningful and well-informed answers is commendable.
The essence of democracy lies in discussing and deliberating the issues and concerns of the public. In this session, it was a delight to witness the articulation and comprehensive discussions on these matters. The assembly members’ dedication to addressing public issues served the very purpose of democracy, as the concerns of the people were raised and discussed in a meaningful manner.
To gain an independent perspective on the proceedings, Sikkim Chronicle spoke with journalists who thoroughly covered the Assembly session. Here is what they had to say:
Vishnu Neopaney, Senior Journalist
वित्तीय वर्ष २०२३-२४ का बजेट सत्र सार्थक, जनहित र सिक्किमका गम्भीर विषयहरूमा नै केन्द्रित रहेर अनुकूल वातावरणमा समपन्न भयो। यस सत्रमा नोक-झोकभन्दा पनि टिका टिप्पणीभित्र धेरै व्याङ्गात्मक कटाक्ष लोकतान्त्रिक महोदया भएको देखियो भने पार्टी र राजनीति देखि माथि पनि परस्पर बहस गर्न सकिन्छ भन्ने कुराको इशारा यसपल्टको सत्रले गरेको छ।
तर यस बजेट सत्रमा अर्को दु:खको कुरा देखा पर्यो। नेपाली भाषामा अनुदित बजेट पुस्तिकाले भने नेपाली भाषा, अनागल अर्थहीन शब्दहरूको प्रयोग, व्याक्यहरूको अस्पष्ट बनावटले बजेट पुस्तिका नै बलाकृत भएको पाइयो। राज्यबाटै यस्तो भए भाषाको अवस्था, सदनको गरिमामा बज्रपात भएको पाइयो भने यसले भाषा प्रेमीहरूका लागि आहत चै पक्कै भएकै छ। यस्ता टुटी हुन नदिइन राज्यको ध्यानाकर्षण गराउन पर्छ, र ध्यानाकर्षण होस् भन्ने विन्ती पनि गर्दछु।
Bijoy Gurung, Editor Sikkim Express
The four-day Budget Session saw lively engagements on the general budget and the present issues concerning Sikkim. Though there were the usual accusations and counter accusations between the Treasury Bench and the Opposition bench, the discussions this time were dignified, articulate on the given agenda with not much interruptions coming from both sides. In my view, some of the statements recorded in the House by Chief Minister PS Golay, former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling and BJP MLA DR Thapa on certain crucial issues of Sikkim would go down into the history books when their portent claims are exposed as true or false in coming years.
Joseph Lepcha, Editor, Indrakil Post
यसपल्टको बजेट सत्रको सम्पूर्ण कार्रवाही सिक्किमको प्रजातान्त्रिक प्रणालीमा एउटा उदाहरणीय क्षणको रुपमा मान्न सकिन्छ। म लगातार विगत 1991 वर्ष देखि सिक्किम विधानसभाको कार्रवाहीहरूको दर्शक दीर्घबाट प्रत्यक्षदर्शी बनेको हूँ। यस अतिरिक्त पत्रकारको दृष्टिकोणले पनि मेरो हेर्ने अनुभवहरू छुट्टै छ। यसपल्टको सदन प्रश्न तथा उत्तर अनि पक्ष-विपक्षको भूमिकाहरू अति नै सठिक थियो। यो सिक्किममा प्रजातान्त्रिक वातावरणले गति पाउने माइल पनि हो। विधानसभा अध्यक्ष अरूण उप्रेतिले सदनलाई अति गरीमामय तथा पक्षपात बिना सञ्चालन गरेका थिए। यसरी सदनका नेताले अति शालिन तथा भद्रताका साथ सदनमा उठान भएको मुद्दाहरूको रिठ्ठा नबिराई उत्तर तथा आवश्यक प्रतिबद्धता पनि व्यक्त गरेका थिए। 25 वर्ष मुख्यमन्त्री तथा 40 वर्ष विधायक बनेका पवन चामलिङले पनि आफ्नो भूमिका अनुभवी राजनीतिज्ञको रूपमा आफूलाई प्रस्तुत गर्ने प्रयास गरेको देखियो। यस अतिरिक्त भाजपा सिक्किम इकाई अध्यक्ष तथा विधायक डीआर थापाको प्रश्न एक अधिवक्ता हुनुको लाभ सदनका माध्यमबाट सिक्किमेली जनताले पाए। यस्तौ चलोस सिक्किम विधानसभा भविष्यमा पनि।
Pankaj Dhungel, Correspondent, East Mojo
Perhaps the most engaging Assembly session I have ever attended, which saw the active participation of every legislators.
The legislators were prompt in raising concerns of their respective constituencies from Jal Jeewan Mission to fair weather roads, not merely demands but also placing how public works were being carried out.
Perhaps some of the standout legislators, away from those addressing in past assembly sessions, Pintso Namgyal Lepcha from Dzongu opened the Pandora’s box on how former CM Pawan Kumar Chamling sold the defected SDF legislators.
The same cascaded to other legislators on the final day, as most of them revealed many secrets of the opposition leader dating back to August 2019.
A praise must go out to opposition leader Pawan Kumar Chamling, despite repeated ‘blame on the previous government’, he held his ground this time. He had a calmer approach to the Assembly this time as compared to his previous attendance post 2019. He raised valid questions in the Assembly, and it was certain that he came to the Assembly with a lot of homework, as he had queries for every demands for grants asked by different ministers representing different department.
In true sense, he looked like a one man army countering the entire treasury bench. However, it is unfortunate that he declined from attending the final day, it would have been great to see him answer all the blames thrown at him by defected SDF legislators.
The Chief Minister Prem Singh Golay, showed a more articulate, learned side of himself this time, proving he is worthy of being leader of the house, he has grown from strength to strength in these four years, as despite all the curve balls thrown at him and the treasury by Chamling and BJP leader Dilli Ram Thapa, he had answers for all their allegations.
On the final day, when Golay answered on the ‘Diamond Mine’ allegations for Sikkim hydro electric plant. The Chief Minister took the cake, with his clarification or revelations of how revenue and expenditure from power department were going to the State Bank of India. For the leader of the house to go back from Assembly and come back the next day with a strong researched answer, he proves that he is a great leader in the making for the State.
Even, Forest Minister Karma Loday Bhutia stood out on allegations of rampant deforestation in the State, with his very strong response. Despite Chamling throwing a sly dig at him for being known ‘only for his singing’.
Some of the silent legislators also got the podium this time. GT Dhungel, MLA from Tadong gave very articulate suggestions on Jal Jeewan Mission and the need for alternative source of water supply for Gangtok while raising concerns for depleting water sources in rural parts of the State. He proved his mettle as a legislator who comes from good articulation of the bureaucracy throughout his professional career and proved he is worthy of being a Minister in the future.
Shout out also goes to the female legislators in the Assembly, all three of them. Raj Kumari Thapa proved her worth as perhaps a future BJP leader, when she presented a longer valedictory address (next only to the CM) which was much better than her own party President DR Thapa.
She along with Farwanti Tamang placed demands for breast feeding centres in different parts of the State, which is something that is expected out of women legislators to work for women empowerment. Credit also goes to Sunita Gazmer for her valid demand of Physical Education Institute or University in the State, a much needed University compared to many others that have been brought by the ruling front in these four years.
Otherwise vocal leader DR Thapa, was perhaps not at his best this time. He raised many valid concerns of the State, but in terms of many pertaining issues he missed out on Gurudongmar Lake issue. He did present many economic reformative suggestions, something that would help the State and it’s growing populace of unemployed youths in the State. He has a strong future, maybe a leader of opposition or the house, given his extensive researched arguments, but lacked the support of his own BJP legislators.
Perhaps, one MLA who had minimal respect for the Assembly proceedings and more so to present his own personal problems particularly against Chamling was Yon Tshering Lepcha, who presented his own personal problems than the problem of the people. He needs to shed the narrative of having lost his shoes in protest against the Chamling regime which is long gone now. He needs to grow out of it.
Lastly, a lot of respect to Speaker Arun Upreti for conducting the Assembly session. He is undoubtedly one of the best speakers we have had, who is just in giving equal opportunities to all the legislators to present their argument, despite many such arguments being heated in the Assembly. Also, his decision to present live broadcast of the Assembly in public is a welcome step. Perhaps more such live broadcast will follow in the future.
For the media, this was one of the best Assembly sessions, with so much information that often get neglected in public oratory. There were truths about the State, something that journalists and public always crave for.
Sekhar Khawas, Senior Journalist
सिक्किम विधानसभामा गत 17 देखि 20 मईसम्म बजेट अधिवेशन सम्पन्न भयो जसमा राज्यको एसकेएम सरकारले वर्ष 2023-24को निम्ति 12146.51 करोड़ रुपियाँको वार्षिक आम बजेट पेश गरेको थियो जसलाई चर्चा पछि सदनले पारित गऱ्यो। हुन त सरकारले यसरी वार्षिक आम बजेट पेश गर्नु वर्षेनी हुने एक सामान्य प्रक्रिया हो। तर, यसपल्टको बजेट अधिवेशन धेरै अर्थमा जिवन्त र परिणाममूलक देखियो। भन्नैपर्दा पछिल्लो चार वर्षको सबैभन्दा जिवन्त बजेट अधिवेशन रह्यो यस वर्षको बजेट अधिवेशन। यसको मूख्य कारण सदनमा भएको चर्चा तथा प्रश्न-उत्तर रहेको छ। प्रश्नकालदेखि लिएर, राज्यपालको सम्बोधनमाथि धन्यवाद प्रस्ताव अनि आम बजेट साथै विभिन्न विभागका पृथक बजेटमाथिको चर्चामा पनि सदनका सदस्यहरूले सक्रिय रुपमा सहभागिता जनाउँदै सिक्किमे जनताको पक्षमा विभिन्न प्रश्न गरे जसको सरकारपक्षबाट उचित जवाफ दिइयो। सदनका सबैभन्दा वरिष्ट सदस्य तथा एकमात्र विपक्षी विधायक एवं पूर्व मुख्यमन्त्री पवन चामलिङको उपस्थिति र चर्चामा सहभागिता यस विधानसभा अधिवेशनको अर्को प्रमुख विशेषता रहेको थियो। बीच बीचमा विधायक पवन चामलिङ र सदनका नेता तथा मुख्यमन्त्री प्रेम सिंह तामाङ र मन्त्री सोनाम लामाबीचको तितो-मिठो नोकझोकले पनि यस बजेट अधिवेशनलाई जिवन्त बनाएको थियो। अर्कोतिर विधानसभा अध्यक्ष अरुण कुमार उप्रेतीको सदन सञ्चालनको कार्यदक्षतालाई पनि यस पल्टको विधानसभा अधिवेशनको थप विशेषता मान्न सकिन्छ।
Sujal Pradhan, Correspondent, India Today
The recently concluded budget session has proven to be one of the most captivating sessions throughout my 8-year career in journalism. It was remarkable to witness the complete engagement of opposition legislators, as they actively participated in addressing every issue and question presented by the leader of the house. The opposition leaders exhibited an impressive level of preparation, injecting vitality into the session by posing pertinent and legitimate questions on the floor. Their contribution added depth and intrigue to the proceedings, making it a truly captivating experience