Sikkim CM files nomination a day after his disqualification period reduced by 5 yrs
Gangtok, Sep. 30 (PTI): A day after the EC reduced Sikkim Chief Minister
‘s disqualification period by almost five years, the SKM president on Monday filed his nomination paper for an Assembly seat by-poll to be held on October 21.
Monday is the last day to submit nomination papers.
The chief minister, who is not a member of the Sikkim Assembly at present, submitted his papers as the SKM candidate from Poklok Kamrang seat in South Sikkim, District Magistrate- cum-Returning Officer Ragul K said.
Tamang is among the candidates for three assembly seats in Sikkim which goes to by-polls on October 21.
The BJP, which drew a blank in the Sikkim Assembly elections earlier this year, had on Saturday announced that it has tied up with the ruling SKM in the state for the October 21 by-polls to three Assembly seats.
The Election Commission on Sunday reduced Tamang’s disqualification period by almost five years under a provision of the electoral law, paving the way for him to contest the state assembly elections.
His disqualification period of six years, during which he was barred from contesting polls, began on August 10, 2018 — the day he completed a year’s jail term in a corruption case. It was to end on August 10, 2024. But the EC reduced it to one year and one month.
Tamang, whose Sikkim Krantikari Morcha Party (SKM) won the state Assembly elections held in April, took over as the chief minister on May 27. However, he could not contest the elections due to the disqualification.
He has to contest assembly polls within six months of becoming the chief minister to hold the office.
Tamang was found guilty of misappropriation of government funds in a cow distribution scheme while he was the minister of animal husbandry in the 1990s.
Besides Tamang, 17 others including one more SKM leader, also filed their nomination papers from Poklok Kamrang assembly constituency on Monday.
In the two other by-polls, eight candidates filed nomination for Martam Rumtek assembly seat in East Sikkim, while six others submitted papers for Gangtok assembly seat.
Former footballer Bhaichung Bhutia is contesting from Gangtok as a candidate of the Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP).
Martam Rumtek and Gangtok assembly seats are reserved for the indigenous tribal communities – Bhutia and Lepcha – while Poklok Kamrang is a general seat.
The by-polls were necessitated as former chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling (SDF), legislators D T Lepcha (earlier with SDF and now in BJP) and Kunga Nima Lepcha (SKM) had vacated Poklok Kamrang, Martam Rumtek and Gangtok seats respectively after winning from two seats each.
According to the SKM-BJP tie-up, the saffron party will contest from Gangtok and Martam-Rumtek, while the ruling party will field its candidate from Poklok-Kamrang.
Sing praises for govt., get immunised from law — Congress
The Congress on Monday alleged in New Delhi that the EC’s reducing of Tamang’s disqualification period by almost five years gives the “clear message” that one is immunised from the law if that person sings praises for the government.
Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said recent examples of Tamang’s case, the Home Ministry’s decision to commute the death sentence of Balwant Singh Rajoana in the assassination case of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh, and the Chinmayanand case in Uttar Pradesh, have a running thread of “complete abuse of law”.
The actions in these cases send a “clear message that you are immunised from the law of the land if you chant ‘Tusi great ho’ (you are great), day in and day out, and you are subjected to harassment, vendetta, if you do not chant this. It exhibits extreme irresponsibility about the law,” Singhvi said at a press conference here.
Referring to Tamang’s conviction, Singhvi said he was guilty of what could be called a ‘chaara ghotala’ (fodder scam).
Singhvi also drew a parallel with former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav, saying if he wants relief, he also must sing praises for the government.
“I wonder how many people in the country are fortunate enough to get this benevolence, this largesse, this generosity of a generous Election Commission and of a super generous government of India.
“I would suggest all such people who want this generosity, (they) should start chanting a different mantra,” he said.
A case was registered in 2003 under the Prevention of Corruption Act that was subsequently repealed. Tamang has served the full sentence.
The EC order said Tamang’s disqualification stands reduced to one year and one month.
In July, Tamang had requested the poll panel to waive his disqualification period under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act.
Under the provisions of the law, the EC can reduce or remove a person’s disqualification.