In a Press Conference held yesterday by former Chief Minister of Sikkim Nar Bahadur Bhandari at the Constitution Club in New Delhi, Bhandari briefed the media about his recent visit to Delhi regarding corruption charges against the incumbent CM Pawan Kumar Chamling and twelve members of his cabinet. The former CM talked about his meeting with the CBI Director and Congress leaders.
Bhandari claimed that the assembly elections held last time was a complete fraud since 212 electoral voting machines were destroyed just on the eve of the election. He said that 12 EVMs (Electoral Voting Machine) were also stolen on the same day, something that has happened nowhere else in the country. He expressed helplessness about the fact that despite filing petition in the Supreme Court not much has happened. He said that the Court keeps adjourning for years and then rejects the petition or gives a judgment which is hardly helpful. Mr. Bhandari said that it is a greatly uneven battle in which CM Chamling is fighting his cases with people’s money while he has to do it all at his own costs.
The former CM blamed the Center of sanctioning huge amount of money to the state government without any monitoring of the use of funds. Remembering about his days as the CM of Sikkim Mr. Bhandari praised the leadership of Indira Gandhi despite the fact that she dismissed his government.
Bhandari handed over a magazine titled “Sikkim Mahaloot” which enumerates the major properties that the CM, his relatives and members of his cabinet have acquired in recent years. The former CM claimed that Chamling who was once a humble constable wears a ring worth Rs. 1 crore today. He said that the state is deep in corruption unfound in even the most corrupt states of India. Bhandari equated Chamling with the former dictator of Iraq and said that he will have to go some day.
Mr. Bhandari said that the CBI Director told him that the preliminary investigation about the corruption charges against the CM has been completed and it is awaiting the permission to go ahead. Without the permission the hands of the CBI were tied, the CBI Director told Bhandari, he claimed. Bhandari said that the CBI should go to the court if the Chief Secretary doesn’t issue the requisite permission. Mr. Bhandari also claimed of unfairness by the SC which took almost five years to give its verdict.
Nar Bahadur Bhandari said that there is no open and competitive system of exploiting natural resources in Sikkim. The former CM claimed that the State Government has distributed 26 power projects in the state without issuing any tender in violation of the norms. He said that the state also issued unrestricted licenses to companies for manufacturing drugs as a result all the three sacred rivers including Teesta and Rangit have become virtual tunnels. The state has 40,000 unemployed youth who are committing suicide. As a result of all of this Sikkim has become the state with highest rate of suicide.
On being asked what he will do next, Mr. Bhandari said that Pawan Kumar Chamling’s government brought special notification with the intention of shielding the CM from enquiring agencies. The State Government of Sikkim vide Home Department’s Gazette Extraordinary Notification brought on July 21, 2010 issued notification extending applicability of Delhi Special Police Establishment Act 1946 thereby making it necessary for such investigation to be taken only with the prior approval of the state government. Due to this notification CBI needs the permission of the Chief Secretary of the state to further investigate the case of corruption against the CM.
The former CM also said that there was not much media coverage of the corruption in the state. The state has a small population and the current Sikkim Democratic Government has increased the number of senior police personnel to keep things under control, he claimed. He said that when he was the CM of the state there was only one Inspector General of Police (IGP) but now here were more than half a dozen IGs.
In a Press Release issued to the press the Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee requested the Governor of Sikkim to invoke sub-section (G) of Article 371F which confers special powers to dismiss the Government for gross misconduct resulting in chaos in the state. The SPCC also exhorted for immediate take over of all the concerned official files for maintaining under the safe custody of the governor to ensure free and fair investigation of the charges by the CBI.