Our effort is to bring clean politics: Bhaichung Bhutia

Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia during the launch of his political party Hamro Sikkim during a press conference in New Delhi on April 26, 2018.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Indian national football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia has jumped into the electoral fray in his home State of Sikkim by founding the Hamro Sikkim Party. He spoke about the political scenario in the State and the electoral prospects for his party. Excerpts:

Why did you start your own party and decide to contest the election in Sikkim?

In Sikkim, one political party has been in power for a really long time, 25 years. If you look at the Opposition, you will feel that they are two faces of the same coin. We keep talking about politics, how dirty and how bad it is, but people maintain a distance from politics. Our attempt is also to inspire the youth to join politics, even if they do not join politics they should be aware of it. We have given lot of ticket to the youth. We set up the party in May 2018 and within a year we are contesting both Assembly polls and Lok Sabha polls in Sikkim. We want to give a credible option to the people of Sikkim.

You contested elections on Trinamool Congress ticket in West Bengal, earlier in 2014 and 2016. How has the experience been of leading a party?

Setting up the party has been quite a learning experience for me. On this occasion, we had to select candidates, file nomination papers, reach out to people without any support from outside. We started slowly and now we are building our organisation. Earlier experience was only about fighting elections. It was like only coming to contest polls at the last moment and the whole star thing or a star candidate contesting.

What do you think of the Sikkim Democratic Front government’s performance?

While there are claims of development made by the ruling party, people of Sikkim are struggling with their basic necessities. Basic development has not been happening in the past 25 years. The State has a power surplus with so many hydel power projects but there are power cuts. There are no good roads in interior areas of Sikkim. The State has one of the highest levels of unemployment. One in every six youths of the State is into drugs. The suicide rate of the State is one of the highest in the country. These are issues concerning Sikkim that does not come out and are not talked about. Many people across the country are not aware about these issues in the State.

The SDF government claims that it has made Sikkim, the first plastic free and fully organic State in the country...

About 20 lakh tourists visit Sikkim every year. They are allowed to bring plastic bottles. How can the State be plastic-free then? Similarly, for the claims of fully organic State, how can you claim so if you have to buy vegetables from Siliguri.

What are you promising to the voters?

We are promising a rights-based approach, where we are promising universal basic income. Under this scheme, every man, woman and child will get ₹18,000 per year or ₹1,500 every month. We are calling the scheme Sikkimey Samman Yojna. We are also promising universal employment to the people of Sikkim, a guaranteed income for farmers. Other than what has been promised in manifesto, we are promising a clean alternative to the people of Sikkim. While there are large-scale allegations against the SDF government in Sikkim, the leader of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (P.S. Gole) has been convicted in a corruption case. Thus our attempt is give an alternative to the people of Sikkim.

Your party is also promising right to sports to every student in Sikkim...

Yes being a small State, we have promised to introduce right to sports in every school in the State. This can be on the lines of Right to Education, where in every school emphasis will be given on sports and it will be made compulsory. By making sports compulsory we can inculcate positive habits among children. This would also put a check on suicide and drug abuse among the children.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 10:06:01 AM |

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