Still basking in the glory of a record mandate for a fourth term earlier this year, Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling describes the peace and tranquility prevailing in the state as the most satisfying achievement of his 15 year rule thus far.
“My government has succeeded in maintaining peace and tranquillity in the state for over 15 years in which no major incident of law and order breakdown or insurgency have taken place unlike other North-eastern states,” Mr. Chamling told PTI in an exclusive interview at his official residence, Mintokgang.
“Cynics may try to ridicule my description of peace and tranquillity as my USP, but they will appreciate my claims if they view Sikkim in the context of international and strategic location bordering three countries,” he said.
“Sikkim may be a small state with just over a six lakh population, but the society here is no less complex than any other state with various pressures from caste, religious and tribal groups with all of them nursing high expectations all the time,” the chief minister said, adding it has been quite a task to fulfil all their aspirations.
The opposition also left no opportunity to arouse social and political tension among communities to destabilise the government from time to time, but never succeeded in their nefarious designs, he said.
The significance of the peaceful situation in Sikkim has brought big investments from both the public and private sectors, particularly in hydro power and pharmaceutical industries over the years, which has generated employment for local people and the much needed revenue to the state exchequer, Mr. Chamling said.
The boom in the tourism industry and ever increasing number of tourists here has taken place not only because the state has been blessed with pristine natural beauty, but because travellers felt safe in Sikkim, he said.
Besides, there has been rapid progress in infrastructure development, health care, education, decentralization of power with 40 per cent reservation for women in the panchayats and significant increase in the per capita income and the gross domestic product of the state since 1994 when the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) took over the reigns, the chief minister said.
“The people of Sikkim are confidence personified and taking full advantage of economic opportunities being made available to them ... but I will be more than happy if they start competing with their brethren from other parts of country in the field of education and make a name for themselves and their state,” he said.