JORETHANG, 20 June: A heavy downpour notwithstanding, people turned up in strong numbers and Chief Minister Pawan Chamling held extensive interactions with the people of Daramdin and Soreng-Chakung constituencies which he toured yesterday and today [the 18th day] as part of his village-to-village tour of the State. Through his interactions with the people over the weekend, the CM stressed that his ongoing tour accompanied by his Ministers and Heads of Departments was an effort to underline that governments in a democracy were for the people.
“I want to institutionalise a system in which the people are supreme and the government is genuinely subservient to the people,” he said while addressing a gathering at Sombaria Secondary School, his first halt on the resumption of the village-to-village tour yesterday.
The CM has also been issuing strong statements against the bane of the developmental process – the trend of pocketing “commission/ percentage” in the name of the party and the government.
The CM started his interaction today with Rumbuk GPU where he assured that the demands tabled by the people would be taken up on a priority basis and implemented phase-wise, with the priority decided by need.
At his next halt at Rodhi Bazaar, the CM interacted with the people of Bariakhop GPU.
Here, he accepted that the name of the GPU – “Bariakhop” – was neither appropriate nor pleasant and suggested that if the people were willing, then a more appropriate name be adopted. Inviting the people to join the process, he declared a cash award of Rs. 50,000 to the student whocomes up with the best name for their GPU.
Further, giving examples of place-names like Rangeet Nagar and Balutar, names given by private investors, and other instances in which local names have been corrupted out of recognition, the CM said that this was an unhealthy trend and assured that steps will be taken to revert these anomalies.
Given that the tour is currently coursing through the West Sikkim pocket where anti-SDF activities are at their peak, the CM’s comments on the political scenario become of more interest.
The CM did not name names, but returned to his refrain commenting that politics could also be “constructive” and need not always be “dirty”. Politicians, he stressed should be among the people and in the open and not seek to divide the people by feeding insecurities and dealing in rumours and misinformation.
It was also for the people to demand better from their politicians, he said.
He also railed against a section he referred to as “mentally disoriented” teachers who were more focused on criticizing the government instead of delivering on their duties. He invited such teachers to resign from their jobs and enter politics openly instead of attempting to sabotage development and spoiling the future of students.
The CM also interacted with people at meets hosted at Dodak Secondary School and Timberbong Secondary School.
His current tour of Sikkim, the CM explained, was an “emotional labour”, undertaken to secure the future of the people and to carry development to the next level informed by the ground analysis of what has been achieved so far.
Sikkim, he highlighted, had led the country on many instances of governance, and challenge for him was to sustain this people-first approach.
Addressing the students, he said that while he has always kept their interests on priority, this time he was also making an effort to meet more and more of them to reassure them of his commitment to their affairs.
“No one inherits a readymade world and everyone has to contribute to making their futures. Sikkim has tremendous opportunities now and the potential to become poverty-free and unemployment-free, but these will happen only if the people seize the opportunities created for them and complement the government’s efforts,” he adds.
At his next halt at Chakung, the CM interacted with the people of Chakung and Mendogaon-Barbotey GPUs. His last halt of the day was at Chumbung.
At both these venues, the CM spoke strongly against the practise of collecting “percentage” in the name of the party or the government and stressed that one of his aims in touring rural Sikkim accompanied by the entire government machinery was to reinforce that the people were supreme in Sikkim and that there was no need for them to suffer any indignity in silence.
Every time someone pockets a “commission”, s/he was stealing from funds meant for the people and from projects sanctioned for them, he stressed, while urging the people to put their foot down against such pilferage. The cheats were serving only personal interests by claiming such “percentage”, he said while appealing to the people to immediately file a complaint against such instances wherever they notice one.
He said that people who took commissions or took away payments on the basis of false bills and staved away complaints through intimidation will crumble away if the people stood up to them.
In the seventeen years that he has been Chief Minister, an environment has been created which allowed all expressions to foster, he said, and rued that while detractors of the people were using this space extensively, the people, even though they are now empowered, were still shying away.
“It is important that the people stand up against injustice and suppression,” he said.
Yesterday, during his stopover at Sombaria Senior Secondary School, the CM congratulated the school for having won second place in the national level Green School competition and also planted a sapling in the school campus.