Little Has Changed For Smaller States Under PM Modi: Sikkim Chief Minister

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Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling said despite being Centre's ally, the state is yet to get air and rail links.
Sikkim CM Pawan Chamling said despite being Centre’s ally, the state is yet to get air and rail links.

GANGTOK: Despite Sikkim Democratic Front being an ally at the Centre, its leader and Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling said on Friday that not much has changed in terms of help to smaller states under the Modi government.

“Actually, in the last 15-20 years, there hasn’t been much change,” the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) leader Mr Chamling told reporters, adding the state is yet to get air and rail links.

“Roads are our only lifeline, but those are not good. In 2009, Mamata Banerjee as the Railway Minister laid a foundation stone for a rail link. We thought it was a big move. But not much has happened ever since. We are also awaiting an air link and the proposed airport is still under construction by the Airport Authority of India (AAI),” he said.

“Perhaps, the fact that we are a small state is making things move at that pace,” he added.

Asked whether he thought New Delhi’s bureaucracy is creating hurdles in generous central help to Sikkim, he skirted a direct reply and said: “All are good, all Prime Ministers are good. I will say the present Prime Minister is better.”

Mr Chamling has been the Chief Minister of Sikkim since December 12, 1994, and has so far seen all regimes in Delhi under different Prime Ministers — starting from PV Narasimha Rao to the incumbent Narendra Modi.

Mr Chamling’s SDF is now supporting National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, as it did the same with the erstwhile Manmohan Singh government. It also played supportive role in the Vajpayee government and the United Front regime before that.

The Chief Minister further said that 10 years back, he had submitted a request with the Centre for “peace bonus”, as Sikkim is very peaceful state without insurgency, unlike most other northeastern states. “But, nothing has happened on that front, too.”

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