S Gopal Puri, TNN | March 21, 2016
DHARAMSALA – There are signs of resentment against the way elections are being fought for the top democratic post of the Tibetan government in exile. On a day when nearly 90,000 exiled Tibetans voted to elect their new leader for sustaining the demand for a free Tibet, the first elected head of the exiled government, Samdhong Rinponche, refused to cast his vote, giving the argument that the entire election process was moving away from the ideals of a party-less democracy .
Samdhong Rinponche (77), who fled Tibet just after four days the Dalai Lama, said he was hurt by the practices being adopted by exiled Tibetan leaders to compete in the elections.
“I didn’t cast my vote as the exiled government was based on the principles of Swaraj of (Mahatama) Gandhi Ji. It didn’t involve competition or opposition. But, nowadays, representatives are involved in opposing each other through their individual campaigns. Therefore, I think, the exiled government is not heading in the right direction,“ Rinponche told TOI over the phone from Mysore.
Rinponche was first elected the Kalon Tripa (head of the Tibetan cabinet in exile) in 2001. The post is now known as that of the Sikiyong, or prime minister. “I had left Tibet on March 21, four days after the Dalai Lama fled to India on March 17, 1959,“ he said.
The post of Sikiyong was a low-profile role before the 80-year-old Dalai Lama devolved power in an attempt to lessen his own status and fos ter a democratic set-up to keep Tibet’s freedom movement alive after his death.
Rinpoche said the views on how the elections were being fought were his own.“The next generations of Tibetans, however, must know that the exiled set-up, which was founded in April 1959, was based on the principles of co-operation and not of competition. The practices being adopted by our contenders now are the same as regular political parties. These are not going to benefit in anyway,“ he said.