An elapsed Face of History- Chandra Bahadur Rai

Mr. Chandra Bahadur Rai 

 The History of Sikkim has been studied by different scholars with various aspects including the various ethnic groups. The researchers and scholars have even profoundly studied about the history of the three major ethnic groups i.e. the Lepchas, the Bhutias and the Nepalese in Sikkim. But, we find the history of Sikkim is generally pre-occupied with political history and then its immediate aspects of dynastic history and Sikkim’s relation with British India. As most of the historians gave top priority to the political history of Sikkim during British-India, the democratic history of Sikkim after the Indian independence is generally neglected and pushed behind. It is a well known fact that political history has always superseded the other aspects of study of history which greatly disregards the contribution of the common people. The democratic movement of Sikkim was also a political development which has always been studied from the elite’s perspectives discounting the contribution made by the commoners to attain democracy. This is a story of a commoner of the erstwhile Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim who has thrown himself in the blizzard of democratic movement that had rocked the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Sikkim after the Indian independence.
Mr. Chandra Bahadur Rai was born in 1936 at Dacca in present day Bangladesh. His father Haikumsingh Rai was a Subedar in British Indian Army. After his father’s retirement, young Chandra Bahadur and his family had come to Pakki Gaon, Malbassey in 1943. He studied at Chakhung School up to Class VI. Since childhood, Chandra Bahadur had many questions in his mind against the pain given to the peasants by the notorious feudal system. His curiosity about such injustices led him to join Rajya Praja Sammelan (a political organization founded at Chakhung) initiated by Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa popularly known as Kancha Kazi.  In a brief interview he has informed us about the popular demands of the Sikkim State Congress regarding the abolition of Forced labours like Kalobhari, Jharlangi, Theki Bethi, Kuruwa etc. Mr. C. B Rai further discussed about the popular Slogans of the Sikkim State Congress after the Indian independence. Among such slogans a slogan for reformation of tenancy has its own importance in the political development of Sikkim. The Slogan was as under:-
Zamin Kasko Jotneyko….. Ghar Kasko Potneyko!!!
i.e. Land belongs to those who plough it……House belongs to those who take care of it!!
This slogan provides ample evidence about the condition of peasants in Sikkim who were debarred from possessing landed property against which they were clamoring for reformation. It is to be mentioned here that with the initiatives taken by the Sikkim State Congress the feudal system of Sikkim was remove.   
Another interesting slogan of the period was
Bhare Bhure Raja Masnai Parcha…..Sikkim Lai Bharat ma Gabhnai Parcha!!!
 Petty King should be abolished……Sikkim should be merged with India!!
This slogan highlights the initial demands of the Sikkim State Congress to abolish monarchy in Sikkim and to merge Sikkim into the Union of India. The demand of merger of Sikkim was put behind curtain after the reformation made by its reformist monarch Sir Tashi Namgyal.
In the General Election of January 1973 (the last General Election based on the lawless Parity Formula) Mr. Chandra Bahadur Rai was elected from Pemayangtshe Constituency, West Sikkim. After attending a massive victory in the election he served as a Councillor till 1974. In 1973 Election, due to the tarnished parity formula there was manipulation in the counting of votes. This led to the people’s protest movement which further led to the formation of a Joint Action Committee (JAC). The Committee wrote a petition to the Government of India highlighting the suppression and injustice prevalent in Sikkim. Mr. Rai was also among the signatories of the said petition.
After the election of 1974, Mr. Rai left active politics and since then he did not contest any election. While asking about the reason why did he quit politics he said-“It was the tears of the Chogyal and Gyalmo that made me to quit it forever”. Presently, at the age of 75 this ex-Councillor is living at Pakki Gaon in West Sikkim with reminiscences of independent Sikkim.

The Agitation of 1973 pic. courtesy Mr. C.B Rai