The Limbu-Tamang Voluntary Committee (LTVC) on September 20 raised a crucial issue that has been simmering for over two decades: the reservation of seats for the Limbu-Tamang communities in the Sikkim State Assembly. With legislative and parliamentary elections scheduled in just eight months, the LTVC is calling for long-overdue justice and constitutional recognition.
It has been widely acknowledged that the Indian government, aligning with the state constitution, granted Scheduled Tribe status to the Limbu-Tamang communities over two decades ago. However, this recognition goes beyond mere appearances, factoring in the socio-political and economic conditions of the communities and other indicators of social backwardness. Despite these constitutional provisions, the Limbu-Tamang communities find themselves still deprived of their rightful representation in the State Assembly.
Yehang Tsong, President of LTVC, voiced his concerns, stating, "It has been over two decades since the Limbu-Tamang communities have been deprived of their constitutional rights, rights that the Central and State governments should have secured for them."
The absence of seat reservations for the Limbu-Tamang communities in the Sikkim State Legislative Assembly is described as a "Two-Faced Betrayal of the SKM Party" by Tsong. Since the official recognition of their tribal status in 2002, the LTVC has consistently raised the issue with the ruling State government, seeking to uphold their constitutional rights.
In a notable effort, the LTVC organized an all-party committee meeting on September 16, 2018. This meeting saw the participation of various political and social welfare parties, including the SKM party. All parties unanimously agreed that the Limbu-Tamang communities deserved their constitutional right to representation in the State legislative assembly.
Shri Birendra Tamling, Shri Uttam Lepcha, Shri Arun Upreti, SN.B. Gurung, Bikash Basnet, and Bikash Luksom, all representatives from the SKM party, attended the meeting and contributed to the discussions. The SKM party proposed a formula in which the Limbu-Tamang seat in the State legislative assembly would be ensured out of the existing 32 seats, differing from the previous SDF party's proposal to increase the overall number of seats from 32 to 40, with 5 reserved for the LT communities.
On September 22, 2018, Kunga Nima Lepcha, a member of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly from the SKM party and the Law Minister, presented a request letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Sikkim. This letter implored the Prime Minister to offer assistance in resolving the issue of LT seat reservation.
Despite these efforts, the committee formed by the SKM party, under the chairmanship of Indra Hang Subba, has yet to make public their report or the formula to be implemented.
The LTVC alleges that the SKM party strategically used their cause to ascend to power in 2019, pledging to champion the welfare of the Limbu-Tamang communities and secure their rightful seat in the legislative assembly. However, they argue that this commitment has yet to be fulfilled.
The Limbu-Tamang communities, who have endured years of promises without results, are now contemplating forceful social agitation as a means to secure their legitimate demand. They state that peaceful agitation remains their democratic and impactful recourse to ensure their constitutional rights are upheld.