Nar Bahadur Bhandari

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Category Politician
Allied Category Sikkimese Politics
nar-bahadur-bhandari.jpg
Name Nar Bahadur Bhandari
Date of Birth 5th October, 1940
Birth Place Malbasay Busty, Soreng Bazaar, West Sikkim
Spouse Dilkumari Bhandari
Educational Qualification B. A. Darjeeling Government College, Darjeeling

PARTY AFFILIATION

1967 General Secretary Tarun Sangh, Darjeeling
1974 Founder and President Sikkim United Independent Front Party
1977 Founder and President Sikkim Janata Party
1984 Founder and President Sikkim Sangram Party
2004 State President - Pradesh Congress Committee Indian National Congress

TENURE AS CHIEF MINISTER

1979 - 1984 Sikkim Janata Parishad
1985 - 1989 Sikkim Sangram Parishad
1989 - 1994 Sikkim Sangram Parishad

INTRODUCTION

Nar Bahadur Bhandari was the Chief Minister of Sikkim for Three Terms [1979 - 1984 | 1984 - 1989 | 1989 - 1994]. Bhandari also contested the General Elections in 1984 and was elected as the Member of Parliament [Lower House - Lok Sabha]. However, since his party had also won the State Assembly Elections he resigned from his Lok Sabha seat and went on to become the Chief Minister of Sikkim for the second time. His wife, Dil Kumari Bhandari thence, contested from his Lok Sabha Constituency and has since been the representative of the Constituency at the Lower House of the Union Parliament1. In 1994, Bhandari lost the 'Vote of Confidence' at the Sikkim Legislative Assembly and was forced to resign. He and his party has since then not been able to regain office.


CAREER IN POLITICS

Nar Bahadur Bhandari began his career in politics in Darjeeling in 1967 by joining Tarun Sangha2. He was appointed as the General Secretary of the party in 1967. However, after spending few years in Politics in Darjeeling, Bhandari returned back to his native place in Soreng, West Sikkim and began working as a teacher at the local school. He later went to work at numerous schools including Chakung School, Rongli Junior High School, Namchi Senior Secondary School and finally at West Point School, Gangtok.

PRO-DEMOCRACY MOVEMENT IN SIKKIM [MERGER WITH INDIA]

In 1973, Bhandari resigned from his job and joined Sikkimese Pro-Democracy movement. Sikkim was then an independent sovereign kingdom headed by Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal. In 1974, Bhandari formed Sikkim United Independent Front Party. The party contested the first State General Elections held under the last King of Sikkim, Late Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal. However, the party lost the election3 and Bhandari and his associates were soon arrested and sent to prison in India4 under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA).

MAINSTREAM SIKKIMESE POLITICS

On the 23rd of February 1977, he was released from Berhampore Central Jail. Sikkim Janata Parishad was in effect formed on the day he was released from the prison. Sikkim Janata Parishad contested the 1979 State Assembly Elections and won 16 seats. However, this was still not enough to form the Government. The party was able to rope-in an independent MLA, Rev. Lachen Gomchen Rimpoche and form the Government. Bhandari became the first Gorkha to hold the post of Chief Minister in India. He took the oath of office on 18th of October, 1979. In May, 1984, however, Bhandari's Government was dismissed by the Governor under the advice of the President of India5 The Government was dismissed though Sikkim Janata Parishad enjoyed a majority in the State Legislative Assembly.

Bhandari eventually contested the 1979 State Legislative Assembly elections from Soreng Constituency and won. However, his party lost the election and Bhandari had to for the first sit in the opposition bench. He was elected as the leader of the House.

On the 24th of May 1984, Bhandari dissolved Sikkim Janata Parishad and formed Sikkim Sangram Parishad. He contested the General Elections to the Lower House of the Union Parliament6 in 1984 for the first time and won. Sikkim Sangram Parishad, in 1985 contested the State Assembly Elections and won and Bhandari resigned from his Lok Sabha seat and became the Chief Minister of Sikkim for the second time7.

Sikkim Sangram Parishad won yet again in 1989 sweeping the Assembly seats8. Bhandari formed the Government and became the Chief Minister for the third time. The Government however, lost a 'vote of confidence' in May 1994 and was forced to resign.

1994 to 2000 saw Bhandari spend his political career in the opposition bench as Sikkim Democratic Front and its President Dr. Pawan Kumar Chamling prevailed in Sikkimese Politics. Bhandari contested the State Assembly elections from Soreng for the fourth and the last time in 1995. Since then he has contested from Rehnock Constituency and have since won for 5 consecutive times.

NEPALI LANGUAGE MOVEMENT

By 1970's the Indian Nepalese or Gorkha population in India had started demanding that Nepali Language be recognized under the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution. The struggle was led by Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Bhasa Samiti - ABNBS (All India Nepali Language Committee). An apolitical organisation formed in 1972 by the Gorkha intellectuals, politicians and socialites, Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Bhasa Samiti was to see through the fulfillment of the demand for the recognition of Nepali Language under the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution and once that was achieved, the organization was to be dissolved9. The Nepali Language Movement for the first time in the history of Gorkhas saw the involvement of Gorkhas from all over the nation. Until then, the politics that involved Gorkhas were regional, be it in Sikkim [Pro-Democracy Movement], Darjeeling Hills [Gorkhasthan Movement], Assam [Autonomy Movement], Bhagsu, Kashmir, Ladakh, Dehradun and so on. However, for the first time, Gorkhas from all the different regions of India who had earlier never sought to be united under one platform now came together to struggle for the recognition of Nepali Language under the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

This unification of Gorkhas under one movement for the first time brought about a consciousness that a leader was need to lead Gorkhas at a national level. Since, Nar Bahadur Bhandari had already been displaced from his political dominance in Sikkim, he decided to plunge into the Nepali Language Movement. Bhandari shared with the contemporary Gorkha leader Subash Ghisingh to become the de-facto Gorkha leader of Gorkhas at a National Level and hence in 1990, he formed Bharatiya Nepali Rashtriya Parishad for led the Nepali Language Movement10. In 1992, Nepali Language was incorporated in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution through the 71st Amendment Act11.


ALLEGATIONS OF FINANCIAL IRREGULARITIES

On the 25th of October 2008 Bhandari was convicted along with nine others, by a designated CBI court in Gangtok in the state water scam, leading to a loss of Rupees four lakh to the state exchequer. The court sentenced Bhandari and the then state Rural Development Secretary P K Pradhan to six-month imprisonment along with Rupees 10,000 as fine12.

Bhandari has been frequently accused of financial irregularities. The Eighth Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi dismissed his Government when his party was elected for the first time on the charges of Financial Irregularities. Since then, he has been publicly alleged to have amassed property beyond his professional and individual capacity.


Beyond 2000

Bhandari continues to actively participate in the Sikkimese Politics. He is presently the President of Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee.


PERSONALITY

Nar Bahadur Bhandari is one of the first Gorkhas to be acknowledged as having national presence. He was the first Gorkha to ever hold the office of a Chief Minister in the history of Indian Polity. Under his Governance, Sikkim strode towards tremendous infrastructural developments. Projects initiated by his Government are still being carried by the present Sikkim Democratic Front Government. However, the greatest achievement that Bhandari was able to inculcate was the national synthesis Indian Gorkhas. In 'Politics of Culture', Tanka Bahadur Subba writes, "The Bhandari rule in Sikkim was however, possible not only due to Nar Bahadur Bhandari's charisma but also to the synthesized Nepali Nationalism developed there over a long period of time."


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EXTERNAL LINKS

  1. Interview with Mr. R. Moktan, president, SNF
  2. Former Sikkim CM Nar Bahadur Bhandari goes underground
  3. Sikkim's ex-CM Bhandari gets 1 month jail, granted bail
  4. Congress invites NDA ally SDF to form alliance
  5. Bhandari has no moral right to continue as SPCC president:SDF

REFERENCES

  1. Subba, Tanka Bahadur - Politics of Culture
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