Gangtok: During an organizational structure programme held at Adampul, near Ranipool, on April 26, the Sikkim Republican Party (SRP) welcomed 28 new members, including two former senior leaders of the Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP). The party’s president, KB Rai, reiterated the SRP’s commitment to protecting Sikkimese identity and Article 371F, which provides special provisions for the state of Sikkim under the Indian Constitution. Rai also highlighted the party’s campaign against the “immigrant” label given to the Sikkimese Nepali community.
Rai emphasized that the majority of Sikkimese Nepalis, who were considered indigenous during the 1975 referendum on the state’s merger with India, are now labeled as immigrants and foreigners. He urged the Indian government to conduct a fresh referendum to make Sikkim a kingdom as it was before, or to stop all conspiracies against the majority community and restore their political, social, and economic rights. Rai also called for the reinstatement of Nepali seats in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Rai warned that the expansion of the definition of “Sikkimese” in section 10 (26AAA) of the Income Tax Act 1961 is just the beginning of further dilution of Sikkimese rights. He urged all the communities of Sikkim to unite, or else the original Sikkimese would be outnumbered and ruled by outsiders.
According to Rai, Sikkim is being attacked in numerous ways, including changes in demographics. He expressed concern over the drastic fall in birth rate in Sikkim, warning that if this continues, the indigenous population will be marginalized in the coming years.
Rai criticized both past and present state governments, saying that all dilutions would not have taken place if they had represented the interests of the Sikkimese people. He informed the gathering that the SRP would be reforming its central executive committee by May 2023 and would be contesting the Assembly election in 2024.
During the event, former Hamro Sikkim Party officials Neeknor Pradhan and Tara Bhattarai explained why they joined the SRP, stating that it was the only party and its president who were vocal about Sikkim, Sikkimese identity, and keeping Article 371F intact.
The SRP’s commitment to protecting Sikkimese identity and Article 371F is commendable. However, it is important to note that Sikkim is a diverse state with multiple communities, and any effort to protect the identity of one community should not come at the cost of marginalizing others. It remains to be seen how the SRP will navigate these challenges in the upcoming election.
Gangtokian Web Team, 27/04/2023