Saturday, November 17, 2007

RC Poudyal likely to float new Sikkim outfit

Gangtok, Nov. 16: After 17 years of political hibernation, Ram Chandra Poudyal (popularly known as RC) is planning to spring back into active politics.
Clean shaven and in a new avatar — RC has parted with his long beard as well as his interest in religious studies — Poudyal is in the process of floating a new political outfit.
A source close to him said Poudyal has been active for the past few weeks speaking to various people and convening conclaves to get like-minded personalities to form a “third front” in Sikkim.
Senior journalist and author of Inside Sikkim- Against the Tide, Jigme N. Kazi, is also part of the new outfit, the name of which is yet to be disclosed, the source said.
He added that the senior leader decided to come back to politics, as there is virtually no Opposition in the state. “A lot of people have been meeting him especially those from the tribal communities and the response has been overwhelming,” the source told The Telegraph.
Poudyal has been active in Sikkim politics from the time of the pro-democracy movement in 1973, which ultimately led to the merger of the state in 1975. Later he also served as a minister in the L.D. Kazi government and was at one time the deputy speaker of the Sikkim Assembly.
An arch rival of Nar Bahadur Bhandari, Poudyal floated his own outfit — the Congress (R) — in 1979 and his party won 11 seats in the Assembly elections that year. Bhandari’s Sikkim Janata Parishad, which won 17 seats, formed the government then. Later, Poudyal’s MLAs ditched him to join the Bhandari government.
Poudyal was a strong advocate of reservation for the Sikkimese Nepalis in the Assembly. The quota had been withdrawn by an ordinance in 1979. Many parties dubbed this ordinance — which ultimately became an act — as the Black Bill because it completely did away with the reservation for the Nepalis. In the early 1990s Poudyal helped the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) overthrow Bhandari and his 14-year-old tenure.
Today, SDF leader and Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling made a passing remark about a purano daju (old brother) coming back — he meant Poudyal — while addressing journalists on National Press Day at Chintan Bhavan here