Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa- First Democratic Chief Minister of Sikkim

Cheif Minister Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa being sworn
in  as the First Chief Minister of Democratic Sikkim by Governor
B.B Lal on 16th May 1975.
The political upheavals of 1940s precipitated into protest movement of 1973 that finally led to the merger of Sikkim into India in 1975. As the political era from 1919 up to 1947 is referred as Gandhian era in the Modern Indian History, the period of 30 years i.e from 1945 up to 1975 can be regarded as Kazian era in the Democratic History of Sikkim. It is because from 1945, late L.D. Kazi single handedly guided the democratic movement of Sikkim till its merger.
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa was born at Pakyong, East Sikkim in the ancient and noble Khangsarpa family in 1904. As a pious Buddhist he entered the Rumtek monastery at the age of 6 years. His uncle Tshurfuk Lama Rabden Dorjee was the then Head Lama of the famous Rumtek Monastry and young Lhendup became his disciple. During his visit, Sidkeyong Namgyal the then Maharaja of Sikkim took a great liking to the young 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 underwent strict training of Lamaism for two years. Thereafter, on accomplishment 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 Head Lama at Rumtek monastery for 8 years, and then left the monastery to work with his brother Kazi Phag Tshering, who founded the Young Mens’ Buddhist Association at Darjeeling. The two Kazi brothers founded a large number of schools in West Sikkim and were instrumental in bringing about a number of social and other reforms.
The 40’s of the last century witnessed a heralding change world wide. A person with the feeling of service to mankind, Kazi Lhendup founded a Political Organization known as Rajya Praja Mandal at his native place at Chakhung in West Sikkim. In 1947 the amalgamation of the three petty political organizations of Sikkim Rajya Praja Mandal, Rajya Praja Sammelan and Praja Sudhar Samaj took place. On 7th December 1947 they held a joint meeting at today’s Palzor Stadium (then Polo Ground) and decided to form a compact body to combat lawless feudalism. The huge gathering of 7th December 1947 led to the birth of first ever political Party of Sikkim known as Sikkim State Congress. Tashi Tshering also popularly known as Tashi Babu of Gangtok was the elected President of Sikkim State Congress.
In 1953, Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa (people of his native place fondly called him Kancha Kazi) became the President of Sikkim State Congress and held that post till 1958. During his President ship he led a delegation to Delhi in 1954 to call on the Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal 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 the sincerity of Kazi Lhendup Dorjee. The Indian Prime Minister promised to give assistance for the progress and economic welfare of the Sikkimese populace and assured Government of India’s support towards political reform in Sikkim.
After the foundation of the Sikkim State Congress (which was a pro-peasant party) the pro feudalists founded another political party in 1948 to curb the rising tide of democratic ideas. The new political party was known as Sikkim National Party and it was basically patronized by the palace. The Sikkim State Congress had branded this party as the “party of palace”. Kazi Lhendup Dorjee realizing the futility of the communal approach in the political scenario of Sikkim, and having dear to his heart the welfare of the people, decided to form another party, called the Sikkim National Congress in 1960. His main approach was to form a non-communal party which could give the Sikkimese peace, prosperity and progress. Contesting on this platform his party secured 8 seats out of 18 in the third General Elections of Sikkim in 1963. Kazi Lhendup Dorjee formed the opposition in the Sikkim Council and tried to bring about a feeling of communal harmony.
In the General Election of 1970, Kazi Lhendup Dorjee was appointed as an Executive Councillor and was allotted the portfolio of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry and Transport Authority. He, after being realized that Sikkim was an agricultural country, tried to bring about certain reforms to reorganize the economic conditions of the farmers. He was however, removed from the Executive Councillor in 1972. It is to be noted here that the Late Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa had his second wife from Belgium. Her name was Kazini Eliza Maria (also known as Kazini Sahiba of Chakhung) who also had played a vital role in guiding and assisting Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa in his day to day affairs. She was an influential woman who used to do most of the paper works of the party of Kazi from their cozy bungalow at Kalimpong. The General Election of 1973, the last general election based on the notorious parity formulae, did not satisfy the Sikkim National Congress. This led to an agitation in April 1973which ultimately led to the merger of two influential political parties of Sikkim the Janata Congress and Sikkim National Congress giving birth to Sikkim Congress.
In the elections of 1974, Sikkim Congress secured 31 out of 32 seats in the Sikkim Assembly and formed its government based in principles of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. He became the first Chief Minister elected according to the credence of Democracy. The Sikkim Congress delegates used to attend the annual session of the Indian National Congress. After the merger of Sikkim in 1975 the political party of Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa was also merged with the Indian National Congress at Kamagatamaru Nagar in Chandigarh.
Kazi Lhendup Dorjee with the Chogyal of Sikkim
to sign the Government of Sikkim Act 1974
Personally Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa and Kazini Eliza Maria lost everything -- perhaps not really everything -- because the people of Sikkim still remember him with fondness. The father of democracy in Sikkim was even not allowed to enter Sikkim as he lost the election in 1979 due to some political reasons. The memorable Kazi expired on July 29, 2007. He did not live for personal gains; he lived for the people of Sikkim. “By merging Sikkim with India Kazi Lendhup Dorji Khansarpa of Chakung brought new prosperity to the people of Sikkim, restored their rights and gave India a jewel in the crown studded with the silvery Kanchenjunga”. (M. K Dhar, If not for Him Sikkim would not be a part of India)


Claire M Jordan said...

Kazini Eliza Maria (my grandmother) had spent time in Belgium but she wasn't Belgian - she was a Scot. She probably only started claiming to be Belgian to improve her chances of getting a job teaching French, a few years before she married the Kazi. Both of them wanted democracy and good social services for Sikkim and both wanted closer ties with India, but neither of them actually wanted Sikkim to be annexed to the point of losing its identity as a separate country.