Freed Golay vows to end SDF rule

Golay being greeted by an SDF supporter at Singtam on Friday

Gangtok/Singtam: Sikkim Krantikari Morca president P. S. Golay walked out of jail on Friday with a renewed call for ousting the Pawan Chamling-led Sikkim Democratic Front SDF government, which has been in power in Sikkim for close to 25 years.

Golay was given a rousing reception by his supporters as he walked out of the State Central Prison in Rongyak, about 5km from Gangtok. He was driven down to Singtam, about 30km from here, in a convoy of vehicles, and all along the route, cries of "P.S. Golay zindabad" rented the air.

The friend-turned-foe of Chamling said the single-point agenda of all parties opposed to the "dictatorial regime" of the SDF should be to oust the ruling party. "It is better for all to be united to bring about a change in the system. There is a one-point agenda (to defeat the SDF), and we should all move forward together (to achieve it)," he said on the sidelines of a massive rally at Singtam.

Addressing the rally earlier, Golay said it was not important whether or not he would become the chief minister in 2019, but what mattered most was whether the SDF should come back to power or not. "Whether I am the captain or a coach, it is the SKM which will come to power," he asserted.

Sikkim Assembly elections are due to be held in middle of next year. In the last elections, the SKM had won 10 out of the 32 Assembly seats, giving a real scare to the SDF, which had made a clean sweep of all the 32 seats in 2009.

The SKM president was obviously alluding to the SDF contention that he would not be able to contest the election in 2019 because of his conviction. Citing the provisions of the Representation of the People's Act, 1951, the SDF has been asserting that a person once convicted and sentenced to jail cannot contest an election for six years from the time of his release.

Golay had been accused of misappropriating funds to the tune of Rs 9.50 lakh in the milch cow distribution schemes of the state 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.

Accusing Chamling of amassing wealth running into crores, Golay said the time had come to send him to jail. "If I had to spend a year in jail on charges of misusing Rs 9.5 lakh, imagine how long will he have to spend in jail for committing corruption worth thousands of crores," he said.

The massive public response to Golay's release suggests that the SKM still remains the main rival of the SDF. People in their thousands waited for hours to welcome Golay at Singtam. "We have come down here from Yuksam to welcome Golay sahib. We left Yuksam at 2:30am and took us about five hours to reach here," said Y. T. Bhutia, a Yuksam resident.


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