Like each election year, for Sikkim and its people, the results of this year’s National General Elections too was secondary. Which news channel anchor shouted the loudest and which anchor gave breathless commentary on the number of seats the national parties garnered across the country was relatively inconsequential on the 23rd of May 2019 for the people of the state. For it was a day for Sikkim and its people to further cement their hopes and dreams of the future…a day when the aspirations of the people of Sikkim lay ready to be opened in the EVM machines and the VVPAT slips of the 32 seats of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly. And what a roller coaster of a day it was! A 17-15, as the count ended was a contest, not for the faint hearted and Sikkim and its people voted for change. Now that there is a new government at the helm of affairs, what is that Sikkim expects of its elected Government?
Several aspirations, dreams and hopes have been nurtured by the people of Sikkim for the new leadership to work towards. There are some which could be a continuance of the good work of the previous government and some which could be a policy of the new Government. Of the many aspirations, here are some of the expectations towards the newly elected Government –
Peace, Tranquility and brotherhood to prevail
Sikkim is indeed a land of peace, tranquility and brotherhood and one of the first expectations from the new Government is to further ensure that the same remains. As peace loving people, blessed by Mount Khangchendzonga, it is utmost important that the tranquility of the state remains intact and so does comradeship and brotherhood amongst its people. It is expected that there is no violence in the name of political flags or affiliations and that if there is any disturbance or nuisance created, strict action will be meted out to the culprits for disturbing the peaceful environment of the state and its people.
Relook at the aspect of One Family one Job.
The scheme has been a very socialist approach towards mitigating the economic disparities of the families in the state and the new Government in its manifesto also has promised to look into regularizing the people coming under it in the first 100 days. When this issue is brought to the discussion room for further deliberations, it is important for the new Government to look at it from all aspects, financially as well as job profiling. Even if the finances would be met somehow, it is but important to segregate the job designations and the duties entrusted amongst the beneficiaries of the One Family One Job Scheme. It is expected that this scheme be relooked from the practicality point of view and that the new Government comes out with a long term solution towards a win-win situation regarding this subject.
Relook at the existing MOUs with large companies
There has been a common grouse amongst the people in general that many Memorandums of Understanding that have been signed earlier has been benefitting the companies by and large and that the interests of Sikkim not been taken care of as much as it should be, be it hydel projects or pharmaceuticals or any large private company invited by Sikkim to our soil. It is expected from the new Government that they have a serious relook at the MOUs with these companies so as to benefit the state and its people in the long run.
Rightful protection of Article 371F
Article 371F which distinguishes Sikkim as a unique state needs to be further protected is what is the expectations of the people of Sikkim. Over the years, there have been discretions to the Article and it is expected that the new Government looks at relooking at the slip outs and further strengthens the Article for the benefit of the people of Sikkim
Reservation of Limboo Tamang and 11 Left Our Communities
It is expected that under the new leadership, the Limboo Tamang Seat reservation and the plea of the 11 left out communities for tribal status will be further intensified and that the new Member of Parliament will highlight more on these issues in Parliament. Now that Sikkim has a robust and an experienced opposition, it is expected that both the teams work together in this regard and bring about a solution to the long pending demands of the communities.
Government Employees to conduct their responsibilities without fear or favor
It is expected that there would be no culture of victimization of Government Employees in any which ways and that the new Government will look at a new Sikkim by bringing in a new thought and action process in dealing with Government employees. It is also expected that the Government employees be given the powers and responsibilities to conduct themselves without the need to fear or the want to do any favor to the political establishments.
Entrepreneurship to progress in an inclusive way
Sikkim has seen a germination of entrepreneurship and enterprises by young and skilled individuals of Sikkim are on the rise. It is expected from the new Government that entrepreneurship is provided further fillip and that more and more youngsters are encouraged to progress under this field by providing conducive environment to foster enterprise. It is expected that seasoned and experienced entrepreneurs of Sikkim and invited to lead the way and that a thousand plus enterprise be set in Sikkim, ultimately leading to the youth of Sikkim becoming job providers than job seekers
Newer Districts formation to be expedited
It has been in the promise of both the ruling and the opposition to have two newer districts carved out in Sikkim. Since both the parties have in principle agreed to the same, it is expected that the formation of the newer districts be expedited and that this move would provide a solution to a lot of people in the areas, also lessening the burden of the capital of the state, Gangtok.
Foster a space for civil society which debates and discusses
In a new and progressive Sikkim of the future, it is expected that people are also considered as the foremost stakeholders and that there is encouragement to foster a space for civil societies to discuss and debate on issues in a free-wheeling way. It is not necessary that the one who supports the initiatives of the Government is a pro-government individual and the one who critiques is an anti-government individual. Sikkim for the longest of time has been a victim of this thought and it is important that the new government breaks this taboo and encourages free and frank discussions for a better Sikkim of tomorrow.
Inner Line Permits to be relooked at
For a border state like Sikkim, it is but important that the new Government looks at the issue of Inner Line Permit is looked with all seriousness and acts accordingly so as to safeguard our sanctity of places and also importantly the security of the state. For example, the recent relaxation of the ILP for people of Bangladesh should be looked at in all immediacy and the New Government should work with the Ministry of External Affairs to relook at the issue.
Fake COI and its processes to be expedited
One of the burning issues of the genuine COI holders of Sikkim has been the transgressions of individuals who have over the years been able to make fake COIs for themselves and enjoy the benefits provided under Article 371F and old laws, also in turn hampering the prospects of the genuine COI holders in many ways. There is a case pending in the High Court of Sikkim and it is expected that the new Government takes up this issue in all seriousness and brings it to a conclusion, favorable to the genuine COI holders of Sikkim
Mintokgang, the official residence of the Chief Minister
It is also expected that the New Government will reconsider its decision of upholding the sanctity of the official residence of the Chief Minister and will have the space in its status quo than having plans of converting it into a cancer hospital.
Emergency Ward at Old STNM Complex
It is felt by people across the board for a requirement of an Emergency Ward in the old STNM Complex to ease the suffering of the people who come during emergencies. The new hospital is quite a distance and with the congestion in the traffic and non availability of seats in the already congested bus services, it is felt as a need to do so.
Reinforcement on Ban on Public Places
An immediate requirement for the new government to strictly bring into enforcement is to reinforce the ban on public spaces which is creating a problem for people around Gangtok and its adjoining areas. With the rampant violation of this rule, it is but a necessity for the Government of the day to reinforce the strict adherence of the ban and instruct officials to take strict actions against the violators.
Use of Fire Crackers
There are many good practices of the previous government which could be further reinforced by the new one. One of them certainly is the banning of the use of fire crackers in the state and strictly adhering to the same. Sikkim today, is known as a model state outside for several reasons and for our good practices. Hopefully, the new government would ensure that all the good practices benefitting the state and its people are taken into account in letter and in spirit.
With a positive hope that Sikkim moves further towards the direction of peace and progress, I rest my case.
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