Today is the first anniversary since Sikkim Krantikari Morcha’s party resident P.S. Tamang was sworn as the 6th Chief Minister of Sikkim. Winning with 17 seats of 32 in the assembly, the party ended Sikkim Democratic Front’s rule of 25 long years. On the occasion, SKM party functionaries along with the party president held an anniversary function. Following that, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister and SKM Spokesperson Jacob Khaling spoke to the media answering queries and spoke to the public through the media.
Congratulating the public of Sikkim on the occasion and thanking them for being the reason of SKM’s win Khaling spoke on what it means for SKM completing one year’s tenure in governance, “The past one year for us (SKM party workers) has been a successful year is what we would like to say because the groundwork for the further development of Sikkim has been laid by us. These works are in the fronts of economic, social, political, and judicial perspiration.”
Coming after a 25-year long rule of a sole party and the commitments that SKM had promised to the public, and some of them haven’t been fulfilled, which have been table talks for many, speaking on the same issue Khaling says, “The commitments that we made to the public, we have yet to fulfil or we have been unable to fulfil, to fulfil that the public has given us 5 years in the rule and we will fulfil them with the right calculations within those 5 years.”
He adds, “As the first step after parivartan, for the general public has to be working on the basic needs of the public which we have started. The first objective is to establish clean governance, a transparent, corruption-free, a government that is devoid of any dirty politics that feeds off division in terms of political, religious, ethnic, or any other grounds that has been a bane of the previous governance to Sikkimese people.”
“We have started working on it, to give social justice to anyone firm in their beliefs, whether they be political, religious, or otherwise. This kind of politics is new to Sikkim and we have started implementing it,” he further adds.
Speaking about the biggest challenges that SKM faced in its first year of governance, the spokesperson informed that it was the economically battered government, which was asphyxiating in loans of thousands of crores in Rupees. The yearly payments of interests of loans worth Rs 20,000 Cr and pending liabilities of 700 Cr of different works after the payment of which the works are to be resumed was the first biggest challenge that SKM faced in the first year. After which, the second biggest challenge, according to Khaling was the obscure works of the previous government in which every government works was politicized in which rendered the governance handicap. This politicization of government had people of different political affiliations face several hiatus in circulating a government file even if all their needed paperwork was up-to-date, whereas people of the same political affiliations had their official works spoon-fed to them. Khaling informed that rectifying these to build a stable government were the biggest challenges faced by the SKM government in its first year of governance.
Speaking on the priorities of the government in the coming year, Khaling informed that the biggest priority of the government was to employ the unemployed youths of Sikkim, of which they were successful in employing a segment but due to the pandemic, the works to it has been put to halt. Furthermore, he informed, upgrading of education and health care by developing infrastructure and workforce was another big priority. Thereafter was strengthening the already drowning economy of the state and building a self-sustaining economic model as a priority, adding to which was looking at issues that were so ordinary that they’d go overlooked, like arranging drinking water to all the remote areas and rural areas in Sikkim.
Speaking about the hiatus and the challenges the pandemic brought the 1-year-old government, Khaling speaks on the hurdles of unemployment and economic instability; “Bringing the 7000 stranded people back to Sikkim has emerged as a challenge for the future; 50 per cent of them were employees in service sectors and they will be rendered jobless searching for jobs in Sikkim, which has to be looked upon by the government adding to the already stacked up unemployed people in the state.”
He adds, “The Economic Revival Committee has already been formed and is working with inputs from the stakeholders on the fronts of how to revive and strengthen the economy of Sikkim, and then building avenues and opportunities for the recently educated and looking for jobs, the unemployed, and people who’ve come from other states. This team will work on different formulae on these fronts and give their recommendation to the government.”
Besides, Khaling also spoke on the government’s standpoint on issues like bringing the CBI to check corruption, the matter of Limboo-Tamang seats, and giving Tribal status to 11 of OBC ethnicities of Sikkim, and how the works to rectify these issues are on hold due to the government not being able to co-ordinate with the centre due to the present COVID-19 pandemic.