Pawan Chamling: School dropout to fourth-term chief minister (Profile)

May 16th, 2009 - 8:25 pm ICT by IANS  

By Anand Oberoi
Gangtok, May 16 (IANS) Pawan Kumar Chamling, who dropped out of school after Class 5, was Saturday set to become the state’s longest-serving chief minister as his Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) swept the assembly polls. This would be the fourth term in power for the man whose aim is to merge the people of his state with mainstream India.

Chamling, who broke Nar Bahadur Bhandari’s record of 15 years as chief minister, led his party to victory in this year’s assembly and Lok Sabha polls.

The SDF wrested all of the state’s 32 assembly constituencies as well as the lone Lok Sabha seat. The chief minister himself won both the constituencies he contested - Poklok-Kamrang and Namchi-Singhithang in South Sikkim.

Born in 1956 to Bahadur Rai and Maya Rai in the remote Yangang village of South Sikkim, Chamling had to give up studies after Class 5. However, his lack of a proper education did not deter him from literary pursuits.

Today, he is famous in the Nepali literary world as “Kiran” - the pen name he uses while writing poems and romantic books. The themes of most of his poems are either the suffering of the poor and down-trodden or love for the land and it natural beauty.

“One learns from experiences and time teaches everyone. It is just the understanding of things that makes one learned and without feeling for something you cannot learn anything about it,” Chamling had stated at Manipal University’s 2005 convocation when he was conferred with an honorary doctorate.

He plunged into politics in 1973 after a stint with the Sikkim Guards of the erstwhile ruler of the state.

In 1985, he was elected to the assembly for the first time from Damthang constituency in South Sikkim. He contested the elections on a ticket of the Sikkim Sangram Parishad (SSP) led by Bhandari.

Chamling became a minister in Bhandari’s cabinet after the 1989 assembly polls and remained with the SSP till 1993, when he was accused of anti-party activities and pushed into political wilderness.

The determined Chamling launched his SDF on March 4, 1993, ushering in a new era in Sikkim politics. The very next year, the party was elected to power and he became the chief minister.

Declaring Sikkim a totally organic state and an eco-tourism destination as well as the constitution of a committee to fight global warming are some of the feathers in Chamling’s cap.

The chief minister says his main objective is to ensure that the people of Sikkim, which merged with India in 1975, become part of the mainstream.

“It is the people who have put me here and it is they who shall decide my fate. If the people think that there is a better man to do the job for Sikkim, then they can rest me,” Chamling said in his last public speech before the polls.

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