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Bhaichung Bhutia Caught Offside by Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling

Chamling says that the former Indian football captain has only played for Kolkata clubs and has done nothing for the young footballers of Sikkim.

Karishma Hasnat | News18

Updated:June 6, 2018, 2:07 PM IST
Bhaichung Bhutia Caught Offside by Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling
Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling at the Jansamparka Abhiyan tour in East Sikkim's Sarmasa Garden on June 5, 2018.

Guwahati: Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling launched a stinging attack on Bhaichung Bhutia, questioning his contribution for the youth of Sikkim. Chamling said that the former Indian football captain has only played for Kolkata clubs and has done nothing for the young footballers of Sikkim.

“For 30 years, he played for these Kolkata Clubs – East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, and would sign contract with whichever offered him more money. But he has never helped any footballer from Sikkim to play in these clubs. He has done nothing to promote the sport in our state, or help our young players,” said Chamling.

Speaking on the occasion of the ongoing Jansamparka Abhiyan tour in East Sikkim’s Sarmasa Garden on Tuesday, the Chief Minister ridiculed Bhaichung saying he can no longer play football because of his age.

“He has grown old now, and can’t play football. And that is why he is trying his luck in politics. New Delhi has hired him to play against the Sikkim government,” said Chamling.

Bhaichung who floated his new political party, ‘Hamro Sikkim Party’ (HSP) very recently this year, had announced that it would be based on youth strength and their prime concern would be to overthrow the country’s longest serving Chief Minister and the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF).

Accusing the state government of promoting ‘rampant corruption’, the 41-year-old HSP vice-president said that the idea of ‘peace’ in Sikkim can be compared to what is found in a ‘cremation ground’. Bhaichung was addressing locals in West Sikkim during the launch of his party on May 31.

Chamling, who made the first public attack against his youngest political opponent, said that peace is what he has successfully achieved for his people.

“When the rest of the world is looking for peace, you will find it in my state. And this in itself is development. I have generated employment opportunities for the people, and have assisted them to meet their basic needs. What kind of peace does he (Bhaichung) want? Is he looking for monarchy?” asked Chamling.

In what seems to be a compatible ideology of both political rivals, football has taken centre stage in Sikkim politics.

On Statehood Day (May 16), the Chief Minister announced an annual grant of Rs 12 lakh for all the A-list Sikkim sports clubs and Rs 6 lakh to B-list clubs. Soon after Bhaichung announced his decision in New Delhi to launch a political party, Chief Minister Chamling reached out to the top footballers from Sikkim. He met ISL player and member of Indian football team Nirmal Chettri, Robin Gurung, Sanju Pradhan and FIFA Under-17 World Cup player Komal Thatal.

A month-long ward level football tournament is currently underway in West Sikkim.

Longest Serving CM

Ruling the state for 24 years is quite the milestone for a politician of a regional party. Pawan Chamling set a new record by becoming India’s longest serving Chief Minister of a state, overtaking former West Bengal CM Jyoti Basu.

Back in 1993, Pawan Chamling formed the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), which has been ruling the north-eastern Himalayan state for nearly two-and-a-half decades, and he remains the party’s unanimously elected president till date.

Chamling was sworn in as the Chief Minister for the first time on December 12, 1994.

The 68-year-old leader has won five consecutive legislative Assembly elections, equalling Basu’s achievement and is looking to complete his fifth term which Basu couldn’t on account of failing health and passed on the mantle to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Sikkim is scheduled to hold its state polls in 2019 with opposition parties, including the newest entrant ‘Hamro Sikkim Party’, gearing up to garner voter support in 32 constituencies of the state. Bhaichung has been seen visiting various parts of Sikkim, carefully planning and executing his poll strategies.

(With inputs from Prakash Adhikary)

| Edited by: Ashutosh Tripathi
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