Speeches in Parliament Vol. (IV)-68

Almost from the day on which the new arrangements came into force, it became clear through Chogyal’s statements and actions that he was not reconciled to his Constitutional role and that he was determined to obstruct the functioning of the democratically elected Government through all means at his disposal.

In the past few months, the Chief ministers of Sikkim and his colleagues in the Council of ministers and the Assembly have constantly been representing to the Government of India against the Chogyal’s activities, and drawing our attention to the fact that democracy cannot survive in Sikkim as long as the institution of Chogyal continued to exist. We have been conuselling patience to political leaders in Sikkim because we hoped that, ultimately good sense and wisdom would prevail on the part of the Chogyal, in the larger interest of the welfare of the people of Sikkim. Unfortunately, these hopes have been belied. The chogyal’s actions over the last few months have been deliberately directed towards creating a crisis situation in the State. The elected representatives and the Government leaders in Sikkim have taken strong exception, and with justification, to his statements questioning the validity of the Democratic process and even the Government of Sikkim Act which he himself had promulgated only some months ago. They have been outraged by the propaganda campaign that he has either undertaken personally or encouraged. The Government of Sikkim and the Government of India has been particularly shocked, in recent weeks, to know the efforts, to intimidate, terrorise, threaten and even physically harm political leaders and common people in Sikkim in a bid to disrupt law and order, obstruct the functioning of the Government and subvert the democratic process. There have been assassination attempts on the Chief Minister by use of explosives, there was the stabbing of an unarmed Member of the Sikkim Assembly by a member of the Chogyal’s entourage in the Chogyal’s presence, and some other distressing information has come to light only a few days ago on elaborate plans to use violence against elected representatives.

In view of the sharp deterioration in relations between the elected representatives and the Chogyal, I had instructed the Foreign Secretary to visit Gangtok last week to study the situation. In particular, the Foreign Secretary did his utmost to impress upon the Chogyal that we had all along been urging patience upon the elected representatives in the hope that the Chogyal would cooperate with the Government instead of seeking confrontation with them, but if these efforts to impede the functioning of the Government, insult the elected representatives and intimidate them in various ways continued, the situation could well reach crisis proportions. It is now unfortunately evident that this effort did not have the desired effect.

It is in the context of the deteriorating law and order situation and the suspicion of the imminent threat to the lives of some leaders in Sikkim that an urgent request was received from the Chief Minister of Sikkim for the immediate disarming and disbanding of the Sikkim guards. Even earlier, the Government of India has been urged by the Chief Minister that the Government of Sikkim should not be expected to support with public funds the presence of several hundred armed personnel for the exclusive use of the Chogyal. The Hon. Members would agree that there could be no justification for a private army of about 400 people retained by the Chogyal on the palace premises but paid for by the public exchequer. The evidence of possible consipircacy against the Chief Minister and his colleagues including complicity of some Sikkim guards added urgency to this request. In view of the pressing appeal from the Chief Minister and of the Government of India’s responsibility to ensure law and order in the State, the Government took necessary steps to disarm the Sikkim guards on the afternoon of 9th April.

Before I conclude, I would like to mention another demand by the political leaders in Sikkim, which has been made earlier on many occasions and has been reiterated in recent weeks, for according to the elected Government full rights and responsibilities on par with a constituent unit of the Indian Union. The request is a reflection and a concious expression of the traditional sentiment and popular with in Sikkim to fully participate in the mainstream of Indian life. It has again been repeated, along with the demand for the abolition of the institution of the Chogyal, in the resolution passed unanimously by the Sikkim Assembly at its meting on the 10th April, the implications on which are being studied by the Government of India.