Member Party- The First Political Party of Sikkim

In the history of every country, the voice of revolt is heard when the level of suppression goes to its height. In Sikkim also, the level of suppression had reached its highest point due to the repressive policies of the Kazis, Thekadars, Mandals etc. People became restless when their existence was unduly fortified because of the undemocratic treatment of the commoners by the state mechanism. So, the voice of downtrodden mass began to be heard. The masses rose against the suppression of the Kazis without caring about their lives and property. The youths of Namthang, South Sikkim propelled  an underground movement against feudalism. They founded the first ever political party of Sikkim known as the Member Party in 1940. The party was founded under the leadership of Dahal brothers of Namthang namely Khadananda Dahal and Dharanidhar Dahal. The other important members of the party were Maha Singh Limbu, the Sapkota brothers namely Jai Narayan Sapkota and Trilochan Sapkota, Jerman Lepcha (Father of ex Deputy Speaker of Sikkim Assembly Mr. Ram Lepcha). They had a good relation with the leaders of Gorkha League of Kalimpong like Damber Singh Gurung, Randhir Subba and others. The main objective of the Member Party was to unleash Sikkim from the exploitation of Kazi contractors and the evil socio-economic practices of the then feudal political system. The leaders of the party were determined to end the feudal practices in Sikkim by any means and they even made a mindset to adopt  violent measures also if needed. It was on a Thursday in Chaitra month according to the Nepali calander ,  i.e. April 1945 (date unknown), the three leaders of the Member Party delivered their speech at Namthang Haat . This was probably the first political speech given by the first Sikkimese political leaders. They made a clarion call to the mass to rise and march ahead in the search of justice and freedom. The summary of the speech is as under:-

“Now the time has changed. We are no more to tolerate the atrocities of the Kazi-Zamindars. We all must arise and should join our hands to throw out the Kazis. This time none of the ryots will carry the loads of paddy of Baburam Kasaju (the Zamindar) with out any wage. This is a warning to all the peasants of Namthang. If anyone dares to do that; their houses will be burnt down. Apart from this, we are no more carrying the Kalo Bhari, Jharlangi…………. If they want our lives, we are ready to sacrifice these for the sake of you all. But, we will never abide by  their orders……..
                                    "Down with Kazi Zamindars, Long Live People’s Power!!”

The three leaders who had addressed the Namthang Haat were Khadananda Dahal, his brother Dharnidhar Dahal and Jerman Lepcha. When they were speaking on the megaphone, the listeners got shivered with overwhelming sentiments . The Zamindar Baburam Kasaju sent his police to arrest the leaders. Somehow, they managed to escape and  got underground. The incident geared up the motifs of the leaders and became more active . The members of the Member Party looted the paddy and other crops of the Zamindar and distributed the same to the poor farmers. Thus, the villagers arose from their slumber and began blowing the shell of a change, a massive change . Nightly meetings were held to find out the ways and means to do away with the suppression heralding a new era in the political history of the Kingdom.

The course of speeches at Namthang Bazaar continued and gained momentum. As a Councilor, Baburam Kasaju had to go to Gangtok and during his absence, the young leaders of the Member Party organized meetings every Thursday at the Haat. Earlier, the peasants were scared to attend the speeches but, later they started to attend them fearlessly. The speeches of the leaders were not only against the Zamindar Baburam but, they were firm in their motives to dismantle the whole system from the soil of Sikkim. When the activities of the Member Party reached to its highest , one of its active members Maha Singh Limbu was arrested and was tortured in the most inhuman manner and was banished from Sikkim.

The members of the Member Party actively participated in the movement for the abolition of Kazi- Zamindari system on 1st May 1949. The movement remained successful in eliminating the cruel and notorious Zamindari system from Sikkim. Due to their political differences, the Member Party greatly opposed ‘Popular Ministry’ founded by the State Congress. They had a clash with the State Congress on 13th May, 1949.  Dharnidhar Dahal and many other supporters of the Member Party were injured. As every development were going against their principles, the founder leader of the Member Party, Khadananda Dahal sold all his landed property and got settled in Jhapa district of Nepal in 1957.

Thus, the political consciousness of the people of Sikkim developed in the remote pockets of the kingdom which was mostly focussed on the unjust, unhealthy and undemocratic policies of the Zamindars. It is to be noted here that, the early revolutionaries of the Member Party did not criticize the Maharaja, nor they criticized his policies. They clamoured against feudalism and were firm in their principles in securing democracy. With the foundation of Member Party in the early 40’s of the 20th century, we can say that, in spite of theocratic and feudal political structure, certain aspects of secular and liberal democracy were in the rising stage in the horizon of Sikkimese politics.

1 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello there,

This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at www.blogger.com.

May I use some of the information from this blog post above if I provide a backlink back to your website?

Thanks,
William