Attended the State Level Panchayat Sammelan held at Manan Kendra, Gangtok. While congratulating and welcoming the newly elected Panchayats, I also reminded them of the crucial role and responsibility entrusted on them in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the rural people. I appealed to them to work with utmost dedication, devotion and sincerity, upholding the dignity of the post they hold. They should ensure that every person within their jurisdiction gets his rightful dues. Every Panchayat has the same responsibility as the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister in Nation-building, the only difference being the area of jurisdiction. Stressing on the fact that the State Government had ensured for women’s empowerment through 50% women’s reservation with 90% and 95% of women heading the Gram Panchayats and Zilla Panchayats respectively, I called on the women representatives to work all the more harder and forge ahead of their male counterparts.

I spelt out some duties and responsibilities to all the Panchayats. Some of them are as follows:-

1.While choosing beneficiaries for Government grants/benefits, it must be on need basis. It should be devoid of any kind of bias and discrimination based on caste, creed, religion etc and also cutting across party lines.

2. Panchayats should ensure that the people in the villages do not fall easy prey to divisive forces who are indulging in politics of caste, creed, community and religion. Such anti-social elements who spread hatred are detrimental not only to the society but to the entire humanity in general. The onus therefore, lies on the Panchayats to curb this menace by educating the people with fact that our Government is based on the principle of secularism and in more than two decades of governance, we have ensured that this principle is followed and implemented in letter and spirit. We have never resorted to cheap politics of using a sensitive issue like religion to garner votes from the public. On the other hand, our Government has maintained peace, security and communal harmony; and we have worked towards inclusive growth and development along with inclusive protection. An example being that today it is only in Sikkim that the communities of Chettri, Bahun & Newar are declared as OBCs.

3. Along with educating the people on the 22 Missions of the State Government, Panchayats should work in co-operation for achieving the following missions :-

a) Self- sufficiency in food grains by 2020.

b) Poverty- free State by 2020.

c) Kutcha house- free State by 2020.

d) Self- sufficiency in dairy, poultry, meat by 2020.

e) Complete ban on import of vegetables from outside the State from 31st March 2018.

f) 100% Literacy by 2018.

4. Panchayats as ambassadors of organic farming should urge the people in the villages to take up organic farming, duly enlightening the people on the ill-effects of use of fertilizers and benefits of organic farming as a life-saving and earth-saving agriculture. They should guarantee that no agricultural land is left fallow and this should be a pre-requisite for availing Government benefits/grants. New agricultural initiatives like vertical gardens should also be explored.

5. Libraries in the GPKs should be well-equipped with books and publications of the State Government Departments. People should be kept well-informed by displaying important information on the Notice Boards in GPKs.

6.The goal of every Panchayat should be to attain self-sufficiency in terms of funds, with minimal burden on the people. As the most empowered rural representatives of the Country, they should work towards making the people self-reliant and self-sufficient. Only then can the slogan ‘Jantaraj Ma Jantai Raja’ hold true meaning.

7. Supervise and monitor schemes so that quality is not compromised along with timely completion. Any kind of irregularities should be reported to Chief Minister’s Office for further action.