P.S. Tamang: A CM better known by his nickname

The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha calls Prem Singh Tamang the ‘Garib ka sarkar’

Published - June 02, 2024 10:49 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Chief Minister of Sikkim Prem Singh Tamang

Chief Minister of Sikkim Prem Singh Tamang | Photo Credit: PTI

GUWAHATI

Local people refer to him as the ‘common man’s Chief Minister’ but chances are, they are more familiar with his nickname – Golay – than his official name. Golay is derived from Goley, a sub-clan of the Tamang community.

Since 1985, a decade after the Buddhist kingdom of Sikkim was merged with India, politics in the State has been individual-driven. Nar Bahadur Bhandari’s Sikkim Sangram Parishad gave way to Pawan Kumar Chamling’s Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), which yielded to Prem Singh Tamang’s Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) in 2019.

Also Read:Sikkim Assembly elections 2024 | Key winners and losers

The spotlight fell on Mr. Tamang when SKM ended Mr. Chamling’s reign as the Chief Minister for almost 25 years from 1994 to 2019.

Mr. Tamang became a Minister in the Chamling-headed SDF government after winning his first election from the Soreng-Chakung constituency in West Sikkim in 1994. He continued as a Minister in the next two governments but fell out with Mr. Chamling after winning the 2009 Assembly election from the Burtuk seat.

He came to be known as a rebel after going public against Mr. Chamling and was sidelined before he and other SDF dissidents formed the SKM in 2013.

The SKM bagged 10 of the State’s 32 seats in the 2014 elections, finishing second behind the SDF. In January 2017, Mr. Tamang was disqualified after being convicted in December 2016 for misappropriating government funds in a cow distribution scheme while serving as the Animal Husbandry Minister from 1994-1999.

He served a jail term from August 2017 till 2018 after the High Court of Sikkim and the Supreme Court upheld his conviction. The ‘rebel’ found a reason to devote his energy to forming an alternative government, eventually dislodging the SDF from power after the 2019 State polls.

Mr. Tamang, who did not contest the election that year, was sworn in as the Chief Minister on May 27. Later, he won the byelection from the Poklok-Kamrang constituency by securing 84% of the votes.

Apart from a slew of development and pro-poor measures such as a monthly pension of ₹2,000 for unmarried women, Mr. Tamang rode his charisma and oratory skill to be regarded as the “common man’s CM” while his SKM government came to be known as ‘Garib ka sarkar’ (government of the poor).

Born in the West Sikkim district, Mr. Tamang graduated with a degree in humanities from West Bengal’s Darjeeling Government College in 1988. He joined a government school in 1990 as a teacher but quit the job three years later to pursue social work and politics.

He was given a platform by the SDF, the very party he decimated three decades later, and followed it up with another landslide victory to extend his term, winning in two seats while doing so. The 56-year-old leader is expected to give up Rhenock, one of the two seats – the other is Soreng-Chakung – he won this time.

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