Saturday, June 16, 2007


Gangtok, Jun 16: From signature campaigning to planting tree saplings, processions to pamphlet campaigning and picketing mobile service providers to warning power suppliers, Sikkim and Darjeeling regions are being emotionally integrated on an unprecedented scale, all because of a 24-year-old singer.Public support for Prashant Tamang, an Indian Idol contestant, has transcended the Rangpo river, the great physical divide between Sikkim and Darjeeling and is increasing with each passing day since the knock-out round of the contest began on May 4. Prashant, who hails from Tungsung village in Darjeeling is presently in a music band of the Kolkata Police. Schools, clubs and even the police were asking people to support Prashant now named as 'Pahar ka Gaurav' (Pride of the Hills). Ethnic Nepalese are also proud of Udit Narayan Jha, the golden-voiced boy from Nepal's border area, who became a singing sensation in India's multi-billion rupees Bollywood film industry.
Jha, who is one of the judges of the contest, spoke to Tamang in Nepali when he learnt where the contestant's home was and that he spoke Nepali at home - another matter of pride for the ethnic Nepali diaspora.

This title bestowed upon Prashant by the masses somewhat sums up the emotions of the people of both regions. ''We request all to vote for Prashant, who is the pride of the hills. Supporting a talent like him promotes emotional integration between the people of Sikkim and Darjeeling,'' said Chetan Sapkota, a social worker in Singtam. Sikkim Cabinet Minister G M Gurung and S B Subedi planted tree saplings today at Singtam as a novel way to pledge the Sikkimese people's support to Prashant.The mass hysteria for Prashant in Sikkim and Darjeeling had now doubled with the icon being selected for the final round of the Indian Idol contest. With this achievement, people from both the regions have taken the responsibility upon themselves to promote him as the Indian Idol by voting enmasse through SMS.Posters and banners hang on every nook and corner of Darjeeling district and major towns of Sikkim, including Gangtok, giving a festive look to the region. Loudspeakers boomed constantly reminding people to vote for Prashant and taxis from both the regions were carrying photographs of the smiling singer.Campaigning is on every day by different social associations from Sikkim with participation of people from different sections of the society. A rally was taken out at Singtam, east Sikkim, yesterday morning by the representatives of different associations. A signature campaign that started from Darjeeling reached Gangtok today after stamping public emotions along the way. The huge banner was soon scribbled with a thousand signatures from Gangtok.