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Bhaichung Bhutia’s Open Letter to Every Sikkimese

First Published: 14th January, 2023 17:28 IST

My beloved Sikkimese, I extend my warmest wishes to all of you on the auspicious of Maghe Sankranti. May the new season bring a fresh resolve towards achieving progress, prosperity

My beloved Sikkimese,

I extend my warmest wishes to all of you on the auspicious of Maghe Sankranti. May the new season bring a fresh resolve towards achieving progress, prosperity and happiness.

I’m writing this letter to you not as another monotonous political outreach attempt, but as another proud yet anxious Sikkimese, just like you.

People often ask me about the most memorable moment in my career on the field. Was it when I was bestowed with prestigious awards like the Arjuna Award, the Padma Shree, or the Asian Football Hall of Fame? Was it when the great I. M. Vijayan called me “God’s gift to Indian football”? Even to this day, I remain humbled and touched by the numerous awards, recognition and the love and affection from countless admirers, that I have received during and after my career. But undoubtedly, my proudest and most memorable moment was when I was nicknamed the “Sikkimese Sniper” and the “Tinkitam Express”. Beyond the laurels, fame, and appreciation, I felt a great sense of pride and attachment towards these nicknames that gave me a sense of pride and identity every time I stepped on the field. The affection you showed me during my playing days motivated me to excel in my career. Now, in my second innings off the field, it is my firm duty to repay your affection and belief in driving our beloved Sikkim towards greater heights.

Sikkim is a state like no other and no other state can replicate the uniqueness of Sikkim. Nestled in the mountainous peaks of the Himalayas, home to vibrant natural beauty and cultural diversity, Sikkim’s rich history and traditions is what sets it apart as a land possessing an abundance of pride, possibilities, and potential. But unfortunately, due to poor politics & politicians, Sikkim has not got its due share in any of the departments. Sikkim has many issues but I as the president of the Hamro Sikkim Party want to draw your attention to the four issues which can be solved in Sikkim only if we elect honest people to the legislative assembly of Sikkim. These four issues are:

𝟏. 𝐄𝐪𝐮𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐨𝐜𝐢𝐚𝐥 𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐞: Both past and present ruling governments have failed to resolve the long-standing issue of Sikkimese Nepali and Limboo-Tamang seat reservations. Additionally, the proportion of reservations of seats for the Bhutia-Lepcha community in the recently held Panchayat elections points towards selective injustice towards every community of Sikkim for the political gains of the party in power.

𝟐. 𝐈𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫-𝐋𝐢𝐧𝐞 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐦𝐢𝐭: The necessity of implementing an Inner Line Permit is necessary now than ever before. Sikkim is a sensitive state which shares international borders with three countries, therefore for national security as well as to protect Sikkim’s diverse ethnic communities and to clamp down on the menace of crime, drug, violence, unemployment, etc that have historically been alien to the traditional Sikkimese society is of utmost importance. In 2019, amidst concerns about the Citizenship Amendment Act, I had spoken to the current Union Home Minister Mr. Amit Shah and specified that the Inner Line Permit is the need of the hour in Sikkim. Hamro Sikkim Party has been actively campaigning for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit by organizing the Dharna, Jan Sansad, submitting a memorandum to the Governor of Sikkim, and even writing a letter to the Chief Minister. Unfortunately, the government has failed to act on the implementation of the Inner-Line Permit in Sikkim. I will never let this issue become dormant. I stand by my conviction that the Inner Line Permit is the only viable solution available for a brighter future for our Sikkimese.

𝟑. 𝐀𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐜𝐥𝐞 𝟑𝟕𝟏𝐅: Although Sikkim has been protected by Article 371F it has been diluted by the governments in power for their political gains. We have seen how politically motivated protests have been organized in Delhi to abolish 371F. We need to ensure that Article 371F is followed in letter & spirit in Sikkim.

𝟒. 𝐈𝐧𝐟𝐫𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐃𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐨𝐩𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭: It is an irony that even in 2023 so many patients including pregnant women die in Sikkim because they couldn’t reach to hospital on time due to poor road conditions, despite producing more electricity than Sikkim requires we don’t get 24hrs free electricity while a state like Delhi which doesn’t produce any electricity provide 24hrs free electricity. It is unbelievable that we put our trust in governments to take tougher decisions for us, when they cannot even ensure basic necessities of our life. Laying of roads, lack of quality public education & healthcare, lack of internet connectivity, transportation shortages, law and order weaknesses, crime rates, and women’s safety- the list remains endless. Our elected representatives profit from our own votes at the cost of our own misery and suffering. It is time to wake up and voice our displeasure in unison, because a government that cannot guarantee basic infrastructural development is not fit to govern at all.

I on behalf of the Hamro Sikkim Party seek your support to permanently resolve the above four issues of Sikkim. True leadership is realized by working towards the development of all with strong courage and commitment to erase the troubles of our past for a better tomorrow. Replacing one incompetent politician with another will not bring any real ‘parivartan’. Sikkim needs a true alternative that can provide clean governance, fresh people-centric policies, and concrete solutions towards addressing these four perennial issues that plague Sikkim.

Whether it be a Chief Minister, a cabinet minister or an MLA, we must never forget that it is due to our valuable vote that our elected representatives occupy such positions of high power. The next time we see an elected representative with a huge entourage of security personnel, traveling in an SUV and living in a spacious government bungalow, remember that it is because of our vote and hard-earned money that they enjoy such privileges. This ‘master and servant’ culture has to stop. We must aim at creating a new political environment and culture where the ordinary voter shouldn’t wait in lengthy queues with folded arms just to meet their elected representatives. An environment where the ordinary voter shouldn’t fear the MLA or CM and shy away from challenging the MLA’s or CM’s style of governance. Ultimately in a democracy, it is the people who are the true rulers. Why waste a vote for someone who drives in an SUV while we yearn for a well-maintained road? Change manifests itself in many ways and I wish to see Sikkim as the model of a true democratic change, where fundamental rights and duties are upheld and where accountability and transparency are maintained.

The upcoming state elections next year are the first step towards realizing our dreams and aspirations. Therefore, I invite every Sikkimese to join us and let us collectively solve all the issues of Sikkim by forming a people’s government by forming the Hamro Sikkim government in 2024.

Thank you,

Bhaichung Bhutia

A proud son of Sikkim

Also Read : SC allows old Indian settlers, Sikkimese woman married to non-Sikkimese man tax exemptions under Sec 10 (26AAAA) of IT Act

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