Sikkim’s first CM passes away

The first Chief Minister of Sikkim, Kazi Lhendup Dorji Khangsarpa, who passed away in Kalimpong on Saturday, played a key role in the state's merger with the Indian Union, ushering in a democratic movement when Sikkim was still ruled by a monarch.

The 103-year-old Dorji, who passed away in Kalimpong on Saturday, was honoured with the Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India, the second highest civilian award for his outstanding political career.

During his presidentship of the Sikkim State Congress, he led a delegation to Delhi in 1954 to call on then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Sikkimese had been fighting for political and economic reforms and these were discussed by the delegation with Nehru, who was deeply impressed by their sincerity, particularly that of Dorji.

Nehru promised to give assistance for the progress and economic welfare of the Sikkimese people and assured them of Indian Government's support towards political reform in Sikkim.

Earlier, in 1945, Dorji started the Sikkim Praja Mandal and was elected its first president.

In 1953, he became President of Sikkim State Congress and held that post till 1958. At that time, there were two main political parties in Sikkim namely the Sikkim State Congress and the National Party and the political approaches of these parties were different and bordering on communal sympathies.

Dorji then decided to form another party, called the Sikkim National Congress in 1962 which gave a new direction to political life in Sikkim. Dorji's idea was to form a non-communal party which could give the people of Sikkim peace, prosperity and progress.

Fighting on this platform, his party secured eight seats out of 18 in the third general elections in Sikkim. This was by no means a minor achievement in view of the earlier political influences which were diverting their energy towards a communal end.

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