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Sikkim - Government

India has established itself as the largest democracy in the world, sustained not only by the true grit and determination of an independent and impartial Election Commission but also by a foolproof electoral system. It is this electoral system based on the principle of Universal Adult Suffrage, that has enabled the continuance, survival and stability of the Indian Political system.

Like other hilly and mountainous areas, the question of land has been central to the political economy of Sikkim, both because it is scarce and because of historical factors. For many centuries, feudalism had a stranglehold over land and society. Land rights were vested primarily in the nine Kazi (feudal lords) families, with each region rigidly separated from the others. According to the 1991 Census, Sikkim was predominantly rural with nearly 91 percent of the population living in villages.

In Sikkim, as elsewhere in the country, the movement for democracy and greater political and civil rights, was based on the demand for the abolition of the Zamindari system.1 The abolition of the Zamindari system in 1949, was immediately followed by an official notification making it compulsory for all revenues against land raised by revenue agents to be deposited directly with the government. The private estates of the Durbar, and the monastery land were left untouched by this new land regime. As the debate on land reforms and its vital role in initiating changes in the agrarian society for a rapid transformation picked up, land reform issues gradually gained ground, with both political and social dimensions.

In Sikkim, the directions of the Election Commission of India are complied with the sincerity and devotion befitting a transparent and participative Electoral System. The Electoral Rolls of the State have been fully computerized and are being continuously updated with additions of newly enrolled voters, deletions of expired or shifted voters, corrections of inaccurate details and transfer of names Inter-Constituency and Intra-Constituency. All the voters of Sikkim have been issued Electoral Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) and the target of 100% Photo Electoral Rolls has been achieved by the State.

Sikkim, one of the smallest and the least populated states in the country, has a unicameral legislature, with only one house of the State Legislative Assembly also called the Vidhan Sabha. The State legislative Assembly has 32 directly elected members. The tenure of the Vidhan Sabha is five years unless it is dissolved. The seat of the State Legislative Assembly is at Gangtok, the capital of the state.

The north eastern Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim joined the Indian Union on April 26, 1975. The first Legislative Assembly elections were held in 1979. The Indian National Congress won the first elections. Since then, the state has held regular elections to the Vidhan Sabha. In 1984 Sikkim Sangram Parishad founded by Shri Nar Bahadur Bhandari came to power. The party remained in power for ten years till losing ground to the the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF).

The Home Ministry proposed in November 2017 an increase in the number of seats in the Sikkim Assembly from 32 to 40. The expansion will be the first since the State merged with India in 1975. The seats are being increased to accommodate people from the Limboo and Tamang communities, notified as the Scheduled Tribes in Sikkim in January 2003. Of the eight seats proposed to be increased, five will be reserved for Limboo and Tamangs. Now, Sikkim has 12 seats reserved for Bhutias and Lepchas, two for the Scheduled Castes, one seat for the Sanghas and 17 general seats. As per constitutional provisions, the total number of seats for STs should be in proportion to the population.

The very topography of Sikkim, and the fact that it is, landlocked coupled with its agro-climatic variations have made it impossible for the State to accomplish an array of interventions making the process of economic development very limited. At times it has been a Hobsons choice for the State to opt for a major development intervention as the long run cost, particularly, in terms of environmental security is higher than the short run benefit. This has forced Sikkim to function in a very constricted development space where the degree of manoeuvrability is very limited. In other States, the interventions by policy makers and politicians are not constrained by the factors that characterize the Sikkim Himalayas.



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