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Sikkim party vows to make Golay CM

Sikkim Krantikari Morcha says past conviction won’t stand in way of top post

By Rajeev Ravidas in Gangtok
  • Published 25.05.19, 4:10 AM
  • Updated 25.05.19, 4:10 AM
  • 2 mins read
Golay with SKM supporters at Majitar in Sikkim on Friday The Telegraph picture

The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha on Friday insisted that its president P.S. Golay would head the new government in the state even if it was only for six months.

The SKM, which ended the 25-year-old regime of the Sikkim Democratic Front on Thursday by bagging 17 out of the 32 seats in the Assembly, has all along projected Golay as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.

He was not in the fray because of a provision in the law which bars him from contesting any election for six years from the date he was released from prison last August after serving a year’s term in a corruption case. But senior SKM leaders cited another provision in the law which allows anyone to become a minister or a chief minister provided he got himself elected to the Assembly within six months of taking oath.

“Right now Mr Golay will be our chief minister because for six months, he can be the chief minister. Thereafter, we will see,” said Kunga Nima Lepcha, the acting president of the SKM.

Lepcha, who won from two seats, is considered to be one of the two alternative chief ministerial candidates of the SKM. The other is Aditya Golay, the 28-year-old son of the SKM president. Lepcha avoided a direct answer when asked who the next chief ministerial candidate would be after Golay. “That will be decided by the members of the legislative party,” he said.

Arun Upreti, the secretary general of the SKM, said there was no legal hurdle to Golay becoming the chief minister for six months. “Anyone can become a chief minister for six months, and that is very clear. We have all documents ready,” he said, while iterating the party position that Golay did not contest the election to focus on the party’s campaign and not because of any legal compulsion.

The SKM leaders said they would explore all legal options to ensure Golay got to contest the election in the window period of six months as provided by a provision under Article 164 of the Constitution.

Legal experts have said once the SKM approaches governor Ganga Prasad to stake claim to form the government under the chief ministership of Golay, it will be interesting to see how he uses his discretionary powers in view of the unique nature of the case.

“This is just one of the instances as provided under the constitution where the governor can exercise his general as well as circumstantial discretion,” said an advocate.

The SDF, on its part, said it was up to the governor to take a call on whether or not Golay can become a chief minister.

It also dismissed talks about the possibility of engineering any horse trading to retain power.

“We have already said that we will discharge the responsibility of the opposition … horse trading is very far from our minds,” said P. D. Rai, a spokesman of SDF.

Golay had been accused of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs. 9.50 lakh in the milch cow distribution schemes of the Sikkim government when he was the animal husbandry minister in Chamling’s first term as chief minister between 1994 and 1999. A trial court had found him guilty and he was sentenced to one year jail term on December 28, 2016. On 28 June, 2017, the High Court of Sikkim had upheld the trial court’s verdict. Golay had served his jail term from August 10, 2017 to August 10, 2018.