Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interview with Former Speaker of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly: Mr. KT Gyaltsen

Press Secretary
Office of PD Rai, Lok Sabha MP for Sikkim

Q. We saw some disruptions in the Assembly today as opposition members stormed into the well of the House. What is your view? Can you recall any such incident in the Sikkim Legislature’s history?

A. What we saw today was unfortunate. The disruption was wholly unwarranted and violated the established Rules of Procedure and Conduct of the Assembly. When SDF had first come to power in 1994, and returned in 1999, there was a sizable opposition and even they used to raise issues. But the kind of disruptions we saw today is unprecedented and should be condemned by all Sikkimese. We are for peace and we want to set an example for the rest of the Country. That is the kind of message that should be going out from our Legislators.

Q. After 3 sittings of the Assembly, how to you evaluate the new opposition? Any message for them?

A. When opposition members enter the Assembly, they bear on their shoulders the responsibility to voice the issues of the people they represent, and work in the interest of the State of Sikkim. I had expected that this largely young group will go beyond passing judgment on right and wrong and come up with good suggestions for the Government to consider. But they have come across as confrontational and only interested in finding fault with SDF’s 20 years of Governance.

I’ll suggest that they should look at the larger interest of Sikkim and give up disruption tactics and opposing for the sake of opposing. Most of them are first time MLAs and they should focus on having a positive impact within the framework of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct. I’m sure that the Leader of the House, Hon’ble Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, will take their views positively.

Q. The opposition has demanded that Assembly Sessions be telecast live. Your comments?

A. At present, there is no such provision under the rules of the Assembly that will allow live telecast of Assembly Sessions. Technical Capability will also have to be looked into. However, I welcome the suggestion.

Q. Your views on the Governor’s Address to the House that highlighted the priorities of the Chamling-led Government?

The Governor’s Address, and the Chief Minister’s Budget Speech, both were comprehensive, positive, and covered all aspects concerning the development of Sikkim. One thing that stands out in the Governor’s Address is that he congratulated the SDF Party for winning the mandate of the people for a record fifth term. He said that, “[SDF] has proved again that the policy intervention and the development process initiated by this Government has been fruitful and the people have reposed their faith once again in the 20 years old Government.” I’m happy to note as a former Speaker that the Governor’s Address has placed the remarkable achievements of successive SDF Governments on record.

Q. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has endorsed Sikkim’s Organic Mission. Do you see Sikkim taking the cue and becoming a model-state in the North-East?

The PM’s endorsement, that too on the floor of the House of the People – the Lok Sabha - has certainly given a huge boost to the Government and the SDF Party. It’s a resounding acknowledgement of the Organic Mission’s Success. It also goes to show that the success of the Chamling-led Government’s programs is recognized nationally. In many ways, Sikkim is already a leader amongst the North-Eastern States. As we have heard from the Chief Minister, in this term, the Government’s focus will be on Quality & Implementation - from Water & Electricity Supply to Road Construction. In the next 5-years, we will see Sikkim emerge as a model state not only in the North-East Region, but also the whole of India.

Q. Finally, would you say that this Assembly - with 10 opposition MLAs - is evidence of the deepening of democracy in Sikkim?

Certainly. The opposition will bring up many issues. All MLAs - be it from the treasury or the opposition - must come fully prepared to the House. If the opposition approaches its role positively and constructively, then definitely, it is good to have an opposition in the House. It will keep the Government and especially it’s implementing mechanism - the bureaucracy - on its toes, which is ultimately good for democracy.