Gangtok, September 20, 2023 – In a significant turn of events, former Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling admitted that the Sikkim Democratic Front Party’s (SDF) decision to deny Ashish Rai a ticket for the Arithang constituency in the 2019 elections was a costly mistake. Chamling, who currently serves as the President of the SDF, made this revelation during a party-joining event at the party’s office on Tuesday.
Ashish Rai, who held the position of Gangtok Municipal Corporation Subject Committee Chairman, was widely regarded as the most deserving candidate from the Arithang constituency due to his role as an SDF youth leader. However, he was replaced by Shyam Pradhan as the party’s candidate, leading to widespread protests from SDF supporters and Rai’s followers before the 2019 elections.
Chamling acknowledged the error, referring to Ashish Rai’s return to the party as a “homecoming.” He stated, “Ashish Rai was not given a ticket in 2019, and afterward, we realized it was a mistake. It was more of a misunderstanding, but we will rectify the mistake that cost us our position in the government. In 2024, we will not repeat that mistake. We admit that it will be our last mistake. We welcome him back home; we are happy for his return and consider him family.”
Ashish Rai, in his address, also acknowledged his return as a “homecoming.” He recounted his departure from the SDF party on March 25, 2019, to run as an independent candidate from Arithang. He stressed his alignment with the SDF party’s principles during his four-and-a-half-year absence and lauded Chamling’s contributions to Sikkim, particularly in the realm of infrastructure development and the promotion of Organic Sikkim.
Regarding the SDF 2.0 movement, Rai emphasized his commitment to “Save Sikkim,” stating, “I am here to Save Sikkim, people tell me how I can lick back my own spit, I am ready to lick back 100 spits for Sikkim. Show me one leader who doesn’t get old. He has been here since the monarchy to 50 years of democracy next year; he is the only leader. If they (the SKM party) were bringing changes, why hasn’t Sikkim seen change?”
Chamling underscored the urgency of the SDF’s “Save Sikkim” campaign, characterizing it as the party’s last opportunity in the 2024 elections. He urged party members to return to their constituencies and work tirelessly for the people. Chamling emphasized the importance of unity within the party, stating, “There is no room for groupism but the need to save Sikkim. We must stand united and work in every constituency. We must ensure the SDF party wins, where Sikkim wins and is saved.”
The upcoming elections, expected to take place between December and February, are anticipated to be a pivotal moment for the SDF party and the broader political landscape in Sikkim.
This admission by former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling regarding the party’s previous mistakes and the return of Ashish Rai highlights the evolving political dynamics in Sikkim as the 2024 elections draw closer. The SDF’s “Save Sikkim” campaign now takes center stage as the party seeks to regain its foothold in the state’s political landscape.
Gangtokian Web Team, 20/09/23