Lhendup Dorjee Khangsarpa
Official Portrait, 1974
First Chief Minister of Sikkim
In office
16 May 1975 – 18 August 1979
GovernorB. B. Lal
Preceded byOffice created
Succeeded byNar Bahadur Bhandari
Prime Minister of Sikkim
In office
23 July 1974 – 16 May 1975
MonarchPalden Thondup Namgyal
Preceded bypost established; Brajbir Saran Das as Chief Administration Officer
Succeeded byoffice abolished
Executive Council of Sikkim
In office
MonarchPalden Thondup Namgyal
Personal details
Born(1904-10-11)11 October 1904
Pakyong, East Sikkim, Kingdom of Sikkim (now Sikkim, India)
Died28 July 2007(2007-07-28) (aged 102)
Kalimpong, West Bengal
Political partyIndian National Congress (after 1975)
Other political
Sikkim National Congress (before 1975)
SpouseElisa Maria
Residence(s)Gangtok, Sikkim, India

Kazi Lhendup Dorjee (11 October 1904 – 28 July 2007[1]), also spelled Lhendup Dorji or Lhendup Dorji Khangsarpa was an Indian politician who was the first chief minister of Sikkim from 1975 to 1979 after its union with India.[2] He was the first Prime Minister of Sikkim from 1974 to 1975. He also served as the Executive Council of Sikkim from 1967 to 1970. He was a member of INC after 1975 and Sikkim National Congress before 1975.

Early life

Lhendup Dorjee was born in 1904 in Pakyong, East Sikkim, Sikkim.[3][4] He was born into the Khangsarpa family, who were Sikkimese nobility[4] and was of Bhutia origin.[5] Dorji Khangsarpa entered the Rumtek monastery at the age of 6 years. His uncle, Tshurfuk Lama Rabden Dorji was the then Head Lama of the monastery and Dorjee became his disciple. Sidkeong Tulku Namgyal, then Maharaja of Sikkim, while visiting the monastery took a great liking to the hong monk and took him to Gangtok, where he placed him in a Tibetan School. At the age of 16, Dorjee returned to Rumtek monastery and under strict training for priesthood for two years. Thereafter on completion of his training he succeeded as the Head Lama of Rumtek monastery and its estates on the retirement of Lama Ugen Tenzing. Dorjee remained as the Head Lama in Rumtek monastery for eight years and then left the monastery to work with his brother the late Kazi Phag Tshering, who founded the Young Men Buddhist Association at Darjeeling. The two brothers founded a large number of schools in West Sikkim and were instrumental in bringing about a number of social and other reforms.

Political career

Dorjee founded the Sikkim Praja Mandal in 1945 and served as its first president.[4] Dorjee also became president of the Sikkim State Congress in 1953 and served as president until 1958.[4]

In 1962, Dorjee helped to found the Sikkim National Congress political party.[4] The Sikkim National Congress was founded by Dorjee as a non-communal political party. The unity themed political platform of the party helped the Sikkim National Congress to win eight of the eighteen seats up for grabs in Sikkim's third general election.[4] He also served in the Executive Council of Sikkim after fourth Sikkimese general elections.

In 1973 Sikkimese general election amid allegations of vote rigging in South Sikkim in which Sikkim National Party emerged as the single largest party due to inequalities of the electoral system, the two main opposition Kazi led Sikkim National Congress and Sikkim Janata Congress boycotted the Executive Council and began fresh agitation for electoral reforms under “One Man One Vote” principle. Chogyal arrested Janata Congress President KC Pradhan on 27 March 1973. This led to mass protests against the Chogyal in Gangtok. A Joint Action Committee (JAC) was formed between Sikkim National Congress and Sikkim Janata Congress intensifying the agitation in Sikkim. The three senior most leaders of JAC, Kazi along with Nahakul Pradhan and B. B. Gurung were given shelter at the office of Indian Political Officer.[6]

The Sikkim National Congress merged with India's Congress Party in the 1970s following Sikkim's annexation by India. Dorjee also formed the Sikkim Council to promote "communal harmony."[4]

Dorjee was considered to be a key figure in the 1975 union of Sikkim with India.[2] Dorjee served as the first Chief Minister of Sikkim from 1975, the year before the official merger, until 1979.[2] Dorjee was honoured by the government of India with the Padma Vibhushan in 2002.[2] He was also awarded the Sikkim Ratna by the state government of Sikkim in 2004.[2]

Kazini Elisa Maria

Dorjee's wife, Kazini Elisa Maria, formerly Elisa-Maria Langford-Rae, was a Belgian aristocrat and divorcee.[7] She was of Scottish extraction and had studied law at Edinburgh University. She converted to Buddhism and took Sangharakshita as her teacher.[8][9] In the 1920s she had been in Burma where for a while she was unsuccessfully pursued by the author George Orwell.[10] Her birth name may have been Ethel Maud Shirran, according to her granddaughter.[11]


Dorjee died of a heart attack on 28 July 2007 at his home in Kalimpong, North Bengal in the Indian State of West Bengal.[12][2] Kalimpong is located just across the state border from Sikkim. Dorjee was 102 years, 290 days at the time of his death. Though he died of a heart attack, Dorjee had been suffering from liver problems for several years.[2]

Dorjee's funeral took place at the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim on 3 August 2007.[2]

The Chief Minister of Sikkim at the time, Pawan Kumar Chamling, called Dorjee a distinguished statesman who helped to motivate Chamling to join Sikkim's democracy movement in 1973.[2]

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released a statement following Dorjee's death saying, "I am deeply shocked and grieved to learn of the sad demise of Shri Kazi Lhendup Dorjee Khang Serpa, the first Chief Minister of Sikkim. He played a historic role as the architect of Sikkim's accession to the Indian Union and had the distinction of spearheading the State as its first Chief Minister from 1974 to 1979. The pride of place occupied by Sikkim as an important State of our country and its impressive progress in many spheres owe a lot to numerous policies initiated by him. In his unfortunate passing away the country in general and the State of Sikkim in particular has lost a veteran public figure whose many sided contributions to nation building endeared him to the people."[13]

Electoral record

Sikkim Legislative Assembly election
Year Constituency Political party Result Position Votes % Votes % Margin Deposit Source
1979 Djongu JNP Lost 2nd/4 503 26.63 -19.16 refunded [14]
1985 Ralong INC Lost 2nd/7 576 22.88 -44.54 refunded [15]


  1. ^ Darpan, Pratiyogita (September 2007). "Pratiyogita Darpan".
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Sikkim's first Chief Minister Kazi Lhendup Dorjee dies". The Times of India. 30 July 2007. Archived from the original on 17 October 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
  3. ^ India Who's who, INFA Publications 2004, p. 247
  4. ^ a b c d e f g "Man who ushered in democracy in Sikkim". The Hindu. 31 July 2007. Archived from the original on 1 October 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2007.
  5. ^ Gupta, Ranjan (September 1975), "Sikkim: The Merger with India", Asian Survey, University of California Press, 15 (9): 787, doi:10.2307/2643174, JSTOR 2643174, State's Chief Minister, Lhendup Dorji is a Bhutia nobleman(Kazi) from the Chogyal's community
  6. ^ "Mission RAW".
  7. ^ Sunanda K. Datta-Ray (3 January 2001). "The Nepal Realpolitik". The Hindu Businessline. Archived from the original on 16 March 2002.((cite web)): CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ Dharmachari Subhuti, Subhuti Bringing Buddhism to the West: A Life of Sangharakshita Windhorse Publications, 1995 ISBN 0-904766-69-1
  9. ^ Maloy Krishna Dhar If not for him, Sikkim wouldn't be a part of India Rediff India Abroad The Rediff Special 2 August 2007
  10. ^ Michael Shelden Orwell: The Authorised Biography William Heinemann 1991
  11. ^ "How we know the Kazini was Ethel Maud Shirran".
  12. ^ "Sikkim's first Chief Minister Kazi Lhendup Dorjee dies". The Times of India. 30 July 2007.
  13. ^ "PM Condoles The Death of Shri Kazi Lhendup Dorjee". Press Information Bureau Government of India. 31 July 2007. Retrieved 16 August 2007.