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Kazi Lhendup Dorji Khangsarpa, the first Chief Minister of Sikkim had expired on 28 July, 2007 at 8.35 pm after a prolong illness at Kalimpong. at the age of 103 years.
He was the forerunner of democratic movement in Sikkim and was also honored by the Government by conferring the Padma vibhushan, the second highest civilian award of the country.
Born in Pakyong, East Sikkim in the ancient and noble Khangsarpa family in the year 1904. Kazi Lhendup Dorji Khangsarpa entered the Rumtek monastery at the age of 6 years. His uncle, Tshurfuk Lama Rabden Dorji was the then Head Lama of the said monastery and Lhendup became his discipline. Sidkyong Namgyal then maharaja of Sikkim, shile visiting the monastery took a great liking to the hong monk Lhendup and took him to Gangtok, where he placed him in a Tibetan School.
At the age of 16, Kazi Lhendup returned to Rumtek monastery and under strict training for priesthood for two years.Thereafter on completion of his training he succeeded as the Head Lama of Rumtek monastery and its estates on the retirement of Lama Ugen Tenzing. Kazi Lhendup remained as the Head Lama in Rumtek monastery for 8 years and then left the monastery to work with his brother the late Kazi Phag Tshering, who founded the Young Men Buddhist Association at Darjeeling.The two brother founded a large number of schools in West Sikkim and were instrumental in bringing about a number of social and other reforms.
In 1945, kazi Lhendup Dorji started the Sikkim Praja Mandal and was elected its first President. In 1953, he became president of Sikkim State Congress and held that post till 1958. During his President ship of the Sikkim State Congress, he led a delegation to Delhi in 1954 to call on the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharal Nehru.
The Sikkimese had been fighting for political and economic reforms and these were discussed by the delegation with Pandit Nehru, who was deeply impressed by their sincerity particularly that of Kazi Lhendup Dorji. The Prime Minister Promised to give assistance for the progress and economic welfare of the Sikkimese people and assured Government of India’s support towards political reform in sikkim.
At that time, there were two main political parties in Sikkim namely Sikkim State Congress and the national party and the political approaches of these parties were different and bordering on communal sympathies. Kazi Lhendup Dorji realizing the futility of the communal approach in the political scene of Sikkim, and having dear to his heart the welfare of all the people, decided to form another party, called the Sikkim national congress. In 1962.His main approach was to form a non-communal party which could give to the people of Sikkim peace, prosperity and progress. The formation to this gave a new direction to the political life in Sikkim. Fighting of this was by no means a minor achievement in view of the earlier political influences which were diverting their energies towards a communal end. Kazi Lhendup Dorji formed the opposition in the Sikkim Council and tried to bring about a feeling of communal harmony. In the 4th general elections held in 1970, kazi Lhendup Dorji was appointed as and Executive Councilor and allotted the portfolio of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Transport Authority. He realizing that Sikkim is an agricultural country, tried to bring about certain reforms to ameliorate the economic conditions of the agriculturists. He was however relieved of his executive Councillorship in 1972 and, thereafter he and his Belgian born wife Elisa Maria left for a tour for Europe. On their return, he set about to fight the elections; which as held in 1973. The results of elections of 1973 did not satisfy the Sikkim national congress who felt that they had not been conducted in a fair manner. This led to an agitation in April 1973 which ultimately suited in the merger of the Sikkim Janta Congress and the Sikkim national Congress. The United party subsequently obtained an overwhelming majority in the general election by securing 31 out of 32 seats. This gave a massive mandate to kazi Lhendup Dorji to form a new Governor.
The Sikkim congress delegates used to attend annual sessions of the Indian National Congress. After joining the mainstream of national life in 1975, there was no sense for the sikkim congress to remain outside the fold of Indian National Congress. Keeping in view the aspirations of the people and all round progress of Sikkim State, the decision to merge the Sikkim congress with the Indian National Congress was taken at Chandigarh (Kamagatamarunagar).Thus, Sikkim emerged as 22 states of India and the Sikkim congress became an integral part of the Indian national Congress and member of the great Indian family.
Kazi Lhendup Doji was a venerable and respected leader of the Sikkimese people and had given the best part his life to the service of the people. Selfless and unassuming as he was, he was a man of few words and believed in working silently.