The Sikkim National People’s Party (SNPP) welcomes the announcement of the withdrawal of the “Black Bill” made by the Government of Sikkim. At the same time it has become increasingly apparent that this withdrawal was not due to the protests by the opposition parties or the people, but was withdrawn because of pressure from the Central Government and the Governor of Sikkim.
The people have to remember that it was sometime back when the Governor had confessed in all the leading papers that he did not have the powers needed to ask the government to change anything, but nevertheless, this time has given a press statement informing the people of his “advice”. Though the party has not yet determined if this unprecedented move by the Governor is part of the process of law making, the party is thankful for his immediate action and would like to thank him.
But the sad part in this debacle is that it has become clear that Chamling does not care for the people of Sikkim and their protest but would rather concede to the advice of the Governor or the Central Government. The people have to remember that even in his speech on 15th August, the Chief Minister had strongly defended this undemocratic bill and had indicated that the bill would pass as it is but suddenly changed his tune the next day after the Governor made public his “advice”. The people shall have to think deeply about whether the Sikkim Legislative Assembly should be run on the will of the people or on the advice of the Governor? As the latter seems to be the case, it is a poor reflection of the type of democracy in Sikkim and also explains why the Government in the past has gone ahead and passed many sensitive bills which have not only gone against the spirit of Article 371f, but also violated the Constitution, while the Governor and the Central Government have been mute spectators.
The question now is why has the Governor remained silent on the most sensitive bill concerning the people, the resolution to repeal the Sikkim Tax Manual, 1948, which is a straight violation of Article 371f of the Constitution? It seems that despite all assurances by the Chief Minister that income tax is exempt for the people, it now had been announced by the Central Finance Minister that these exemptions are only upto 2017. The SNPP asks of the Government whether there was a definite conspiracy to purposely misrepresent facts to the people? It is also slowly emerging that there seems to have been a secret pact between the Central Government and the Chief Minister without the people being informed , which is condemnable is a true democracy.
The SNPP would therefore request the Governor to further advice the state Government to issue a white paper regarding the status of Income Tax collection in Sikkim at the earliest because the party is clear on its stand that any institution which goes against the will of the people, and the spirit of the 8th May Agreement, would be the target of the anger of the Sikkimese people.