In a dramatic showdown on the assembly floor, the former Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Chamling, employed a well-known Hindi proverb to express his dissatisfaction with the Governor's budget address. During the second day of the Seventh Session of Tenth Assembly (Budget Session 2023-24), Chamling criticized the speech, claiming it lacked originality and was nothing more than a rehashing of existing schemes.
Chamling went on to assert that the ruling parties, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), were operating with a "double-engine" approach. He alleged that the Governor's address failed to provide a roadmap for strengthening the economy and introduced no groundbreaking initiatives. According to Chamling, most of the schemes highlighted in the speech were initiated by the previous government, with the current administration simply repackaging them. He also expressed concern about the absence of budgetary provisions for the Krishi Atma Nirbhar scheme, which aims to bolster agricultural self-reliance.
Furthermore, Chamling addressed the issue of water scarcity in Sikkim, particularly under the Jal Jeevan Scheme. He pointed out that the state receives an annual allocation of Rs 100 crore for water-related projects and emphasized that there should be no water shortages in the region. Chamling also drew comparisons between the SKM's new initiative, the Mobile Village, which offers healthcare services through specialized vehicles, and the Sikkim Democratic Front's (SDF) health checkup program called CATCH. While acknowledging the positive aspects of certain schemes like Bahini and the Milk Incentive Policy, Chamling concluded his remarks by likening the Governor's address to the proverbial phrase, "Khoda Pahad Nikla Chuha" (Digging a mountain, only to find a mouse).
In response to Chamling's critique, Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang acknowledged Chamling's seniority as the longest-serving CM and expressed hope that Chamling would serve as a guiding force. However, Tamang noted Chamling's absence from the assembly sessions following the initial one. The Chief Minister defended the continuity of projects initiated by the SDF government, even without sufficient budgetary provisions. Tamang stated that the current government had paid over 130 crore for the fair-weather road project sanctioned by the previous administration. He also highlighted the introduction of new schemes like Krishi Atmanirbhar and incentives for piggery, which directly benefit farmers and strengthen the state's cooperative sector. Tamang refuted Chamling's claims and highlighted the government's efforts to address various issues, such as providing ambulances to colleges and extending educational sponsorships to primitive villages like Dzongu.
During the assembly's question hour, Chamling raised concerns about the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in Writ Petition No. 59/2013 & 1283/2021, as well as the subsequent enactment of the Finance Act 2023. In response, CM Tamang clarified that the government had filed counter affidavits in relation to the writ petitions and assured the assembly that certified copies of the relevant documents had been presented. He further informed the members that the resolutions passed in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly had been forwarded to the Government of India, with Resolution 1 of 2023 sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Finance, while Resolution 2 of 2023 had been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance.
Regarding Chamling's request for the disclosure of complete sets of documents and case files, CM Tamang stated that no such requisition had been made during previous sessions.
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