This election, North district electors want more focus, involvement

Thu, Mar 14, 2019

Despite being the largest district in size, north district doesn’t find much space in election agenda of political parties, courtesy its sparse population and only three Assembly constituencies falling under it. The district which elects legislators from Kabi-Lungchok, Lachen-Mangan and Dzongu constituencies has barely dominated political discourse unlike other three districts.
However, this 2019 election, voters of the district say they have largely been ignored in mainstream politics and demand that they be involved to feel their existence.
Some voters SIKKIM EXPRESS spoke with say north district has always been a silent district with very less political activities even during this election season. “North Sikkim has always been the last stop for political campaigns and least visited district. We are the example of peaceful people in Sikkim. I personally feel that our next leader should involve us,” said Lakpa Dorjee, a local resident.
While politicking is taking place in the capital and other political hotbeds of the State, it is business as usual for people in north district. Both the ruling and opposition party leaders and cadres are at ease unlike other districts.
“North Sikkim is definitely looking for a pro-people government which will work for the society first and then for himself/herself,” added another local.
“I will be voting for first time. I am equally excited and nervous as I want to make my vote count and make the best candidate win,” shared a college student.
Famous for its scenic beauty and tourist destinations like Lachen, Lachung and Yumthang valley, a large number of youths in the district are self-employed and independent running travel business, homestays and hotels.    
“I am happy with the tourists flow in our district. We are able to run our livelihood. I would definitely want such government which supports the dreams of the people and provide opportunities through which we can live a decent life,” said a local entrepreneur from North Sikkim.
Not to forget about the Lepcha reserve of Dzongu. The constituency is galore with natural beauty, heritage and its own geographical challenges especially after the Mantam deluge and snapped connectivity. Though the lake is now declared a tourist spot, the people feel they are backward compared to other areas in the North.
“Dzongu is neglected in terms of everything. The government who listens to the public should be supported instead of the one who listens just to the panchayats. One panchayat can’t point all our issues and come with a solution. Dzongu is in a great need of basic development first,” said Nim Tshering Lepcha, a Dzongu resident.
Issues headlining the agenda during the interactions included proper road connectivity, better health, education, water and power supply, better implementation of PMGSY road projects and timely utilisation of the fund sanctioned for Rafong khola before the rainy season.
In the 2014 Assembly elections, even as the opposition relied on strong anti-hydel power project movement and other local issues, the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) bagged two of three seats in the district.
Sitting Forest minister T.W. Lepcha was elected from Lachen-Mangan and deputy Speaker Sonam Gyatso Lepcha won from Dzongu. Kabi Lungchuk MLA Ugen Nedup Bhutia, who won on a SKM ticket, later joined the ruling front.
T.W. Lepcha polled 3024 votes or 53.43 percent votes from Lachen-Mangan and Sonam Gyatso Lepcha got 4618 votes or 63.67 percent votes from Dzongu defeating SKM candidates in both the constituencies.
SDF candidate T.T. Bhutia however couldn’t sustain the anti-incumbency wave in Kabi-Lungchok paving way for SKM candidate Ugen Nedup Bhutia’s victory in the constituency.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi