Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling completed 23 uninterrupted years in power on Tuesday in the Himalayan State and appeared a contented man.
Chamling boasted of reducing the number of below poverty level (BPL) families and increasing per capital index of the people during the regime of his party, the Sikkim Democratic Front, that began in 1994.
"When my government came to power in 1994, there was abject poverty all around with 41 per cent people remaining below poverty line. At present the figure is only 8 per cent," Chamling said at a function to mark completion of 23 years of his government. Addressing a function to mark completion of 23 years of his government, the 67-year-old chief minister said the per capita index was Rs 9,300 in 1994 and now it is Rs 2.91 lakh at constant price.
The founding president of the ruling SDF said his government has set out on a mission to make the border state a fully literate state by next year. Sikkim has 82.6 per cent literacy rate as per latest figure. "I have always tried hard to protect the secular fabric of Sikkimese society and discouraged casteist and communal politics," Chamling said and hoped that the people will maintain this spirit.
Having declared Sikkim a completely organic state last year, he said supply of banana and mangoes, ripened by use of toxic chemicals, from outside the state will be banned from next year. Chamling, who has so far been elected to power for five consecutive terms, was 44 when he had taken over the reins of the State on December 12, 1994, defeating the Sikkim Sangram Parishad.