Who is P.S. Golay, the new chief minister of Sikkim

Prem Singh Tamang, better known as P.S. Golay, hailing from West Sikkim, has been a part of the political scene in the State since the early 1990s

P.S. Golay was sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Sikkim on May 27, 2019, in the presence of a crowd in Paljor Stadium in Gangtok, which can hold as many as 30,000 people. His party, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), had beaten the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and dethroned Pawan Kumar Chamling, the longest-serving Chief Minister of the country, by a slender majority of two seats in the recently concluded Sikkim Assembly elections.

Prem Singh Tamang, better known as P.S. Golay, hailing from West Sikkim, has been a part of the political scene in the State since the early 1990s. After joining the SDF in 1993, the 51-year-old won in the 1994 Sikkim Assembly elections from the Chakung constituency, beating Tika Gurung of the Sikkim Sangram Parishad (SSP) by a margin of 1606 (28.33% of the total) votes. He assumed the role of the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Ecclesiastical and Industry Department soon after, serving till 1999.

History repeated itself in the 1999 election, he won by a margin of 1152 votes against Mr. Gurung in Chakung. He was chosen to be the Minister for Industries and Animal Husbandry for the next five years. His winning streak continued in 2004 as he won against Satish Mohan Pradhan of the Indian National Congress (INC) by an overwhelming margin of 6501 (91.59% of the total) votes registered in the constituency. This time, he served as the Minister for Building and Housing Department.

The crack between Mr. Golay and the SDF began to appear soon after his victory in the 2009 elections. Despite winning the Upper Burtuk constituency against INC candidate Arun Kumar Rai by a margin of 4563 votes, and being offered the role of the Chairperson of Industries Department – he rejected the proposition. On December 21, 2009, after a Rolu picnic event, he declared himself a dissent MLA of the party – heavily criticising its ‘failure to deliver on promises, alleged corruption and nepotism’. He maintained his absence in the annual Rolu picnic event from that year on.

After five years of open confrontation with the party leadership, he officially resigned from the SDF in September 2013 and founded the SKM, a month later. In the 2014 Assembly elections, he contested two seats on behalf of his new party in Upper Burtuk and Namthang-Rateypani constituencies — winning the former, and facing a loss in the latter.

In Upper Burtuk, he won in a closely-contested election by a slender margin of 573 votes against his former party member D. R. Thapa. However, he lost to Tilu Gurung of the SDF in Namthang-Rateypani by a margin of 1155 votes. Golay-led SKM secured 1,26,024 votes and won 10 of 32 seats in the state Assembly elections — signs of a shift from the dominance of the SDF party.

Between 2015 and 2016, his party lost seven MLAs to the SDF and Mr. Golay was disqualified from the Sikkim Legislative Assembly and convicted on the grounds of ‘misappropriating government funds’ worth ₹9.5 lakh between 1994 and 1999 — during his association with the SDF. He was sentenced to one year in prison with a fine of ₹10,000. It was only in August 2018 that he was released from the jail and resumed campaigning with SKM.

Mr. Golay’s SKM party manifesto for the 2019 elections included promises like providing government jobs to the unemployed, loan waivers up to ₹5 lakh for farmers and the unemployed and stopping the Citizen Amendment Bill from being enforced.

According to the affidavit he filed at the time of contesting Sikkim Assembly elections, Mr. Golay has been married thrice and has three children. He has a net worth of ₹1.92 crore, with assets standing at a total of ₹2.33 crore and liabilities amounting to ₹40.366 lakh. Before his entry into politics, he served as a graduate teacher under the education department in the Sikkim Government. He had graduated from Darjeeling Government College in 1988 with a B.A. degree.

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