Portrait of the Day: Palden Thondup Namgyal with Indira Gandhi

05 July 2015

From the Delhi Press archives: Palden Thondup Namgyal, the twelfth and the last Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, with India's former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Palden Thondup Namgyal ascended to the throne in 1963. At the age of forty, he inherited a kingdom that was formally a Protectorate of India, with the central government holding key stakes in Sikkim’s external affairs, defence and communication, under the Indo-Sikkim treaty of 1950. On 4 July 1974, following widespread riots against the monarchy, Thondup Namgyal assented to the Government of Sikkim Act. This act empowered the Government of Sikkim to seek participation and representation for its people in the political institutions of India. The act became crucial in the Sikkim Assembly’s 1975 call to abolish the “oppressive and undemocratic institution of the Chogyal for all times.” On 10 April 1975, the Indian Army, on the request of the prime minister of India, marched into Chogyal’s palace and put him under house-arrest. Questions around the motivations for the Indian government's intervention at that time, continue to be raised till today. In a referendum on 14 April 1975, Sikkim voted for a merger with India and became its twenty-second state. 

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