On Sunday, Pawan Chamling, the 68-year-old Sikkim chief minister became the longest serving chief minister in the country. Completing his 24th year in office, Chamling remembered former West Bengal chief minister late Jyoti Basu, whose record he surpassed.
“On this momentous occasion, I also offer my homage to Late Shri Jyoti Basu ji, a great statesman for whom I have the highest respects and whose record stint as Chief Minister, I am fortunate to surpass,” Chamling, wrote on Facebook, sharing photographs of the five times he took oath of office. “As I cross a personal milestone, I would like to remember all those who have been a part of this journey. First and foremost, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the people of Sikkim for reposing their faith in me by giving their mandate for five consecutive terms.”
Chamling is also the founder of the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF).
He also claimed that Sikkim became a progressive state under his rule and highlighted initiatives like organic farming, cleanliness drives and other environment friendly initiatives.
“The life expectancy of our people has increased by a decade, from 62 years in 1994 to the present 72 years as per the recent Government of India data,” he wrote. “Allegations of corruption have often been made against our Government. In this regard, I want to state a bare and a basic fact, i.e development and corruption never go hand in hand. There can never be development where there is corruption and vice versa. The quantum and magnitude of development that has taken place in Sikkim speaks for itself.”
In a fresh post on Sunday Chamling apologised for missing out on family members in his last post .
“I am touched and overwhelmed by the good wishes and greetings pouring in from all corners. At this moment, my thoughts go to my parents and my family without whose support, it would not have been possible to achieve this milestone,” he wrote. “I express my heartfelt gratitude to my mother, my late father, my wives, my daughters and sons, my late sister, my brothers as well as my daughters-in-law and son-in-law. They form my greatest support system and I apologize for missing out on them in my previous message.”.
Chamling joined politics in 1973 and became member of the Legislative Assembly in 1985. He founded the SDF in 1993 and formed the government next year toppling the 179-day government of Sanchaman Limboo.
However, according to political observers, Chamling has a tough fight in 2019 when the Sikkim Assembly goes to polls. Former Indian football skipper Bhaichung Bhutiya recently launched his own political party “Hamro Sikkim”.
During his press meet in Delhi recently Bhaichung made it clear that corruption, urban-rural growth gap and environmental degradation through dams would be his party’s main poll plank.
At present SDF has 29 MLAs in a 32-seat Assembly, while Opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has only 2 seats. The other is occupied by an Independent
Chamling was awarded ‘Bhanu Puraskar’ (2010) as a poet and wrote under his pen name Kiran. He is father of four sons and four daughters.