The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) president Prem Singh Tamang, popularly known as PS Golay, took oath as the new Chief Minister of Sikkim on Monday.
An SKM delegation led by Tamang called on the governor Ganga Prasad at Raj Bhawan on Saturday and staked claim to form the next government in the state having defeated the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in the Assembly election ending Pawan Kumar Chamling's reign as the longest-serving chief minister of an Indian state — he served for five consecutive terms since 1993.
Prasad, however reportedly told the delegation to wait as he sought legal opinion on Tamang's year-long conviction in a corruption case in 2016, for which he had served the prison term till August 2018. According to the law, a politician can't contest any election for six years from the date he or she was released from prison.
But senior SKM leaders cited another Article 164 of the Indian Constitution which allows anyone to become a minister or a chief minister provided he got himself elected to the Assembly within six months of taking the oath. Thereafter, the governor invited the 51-year-old leader to form the government.
However, party members told the media that Tamang did not contest the election to focus on the party’s campaign and not because of any legal compulsion. The SKM leaders said they would explore all legal options to ensure the party chief gets to contest election in six months, The Telegraph reported.
Tamang had been accused of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs. 9.50 lakh in the milch cow distribution scheme of the Sikkim government when he was the animal husbandry minister in Chamling’s first term between 1994 and 1999. A trial court had found him guilty and he was sentenced to a one-year jail term on 28 December, 2016. On 28 June, 2017, the High Court of Sikkim had upheld the trial court’s verdict and Tamang served his jail term from 10 August, 2017 to 10 August, 2018, according to The Telegraph's report.
As a part of SDF, Tamang was a candidate from the Chukhung Constituency in West Sikkim and was elected to the Assembly in 1994. During his affiliations with Chamling's, he also served as the State Youth Convenor and Vice President under the former chief minister's leadership.
He served in three ministerial roles in the Sikkim government helmed by Chamling from 1994 to 1999. He was the Minister for Animal Husbandry at first, then in 1999, was handed over the charge for industries along with the animal husbandry department; and in 2004 to 2009, he was the Minister for Building and Housing Department. In 2009, after winning an election in the Burtuk constituency, he was nominated as the chairperson of Industries Department. However, he did not serve at the post.
Meanwhile, Tamnag founded SKM on 4 February 2013 in Soreng, West Sikkim but it was only on 6 September, 2013 that he officially resigned from SDF and became the SKM president. In the 2014 election, Tamang was elected as MLA from the Burtuk Constituency, and the party gained ten seats in the Assembly with a 42 percent vote share.
However, on 13 January, 2017 he was disqualified after being convicted in the corruption case, but his popularity could be gauged by the fact that on his release Sikkim witnessed a mass gathering in his support which is recorded as the highest ever gathering of any political event in Sikkim.
In the recently concluded state election, SKM won by a slender majority in the 32-member legislative assembly by bagging 17 seats against 15 won by the SDF. The party is also an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at the Centre and thus a part of the National Democratic Alliance.
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Updated Date: May 27, 2019 11:31:16 IST