Dalai Lama won’t exit any time soon

By Vishal Gulati, IANS
Thursday, November 25, 2010

DHARAMSALA - Even if the Dalai Lama decides to quit public life, as he indicated recently, his aides say the entire process is likely to take about a year’s time.

In any case, the Tibetan spiritual leader is bound to discuss his retirement plan with the Tibetan parliament-in-exile which is based here, they say.

Tenzin Taklha, joint secretary at the Dalai Lama’s office, told IANS: “His Holiness only told (a) journalist that he is considering the feasibility of retirement from public life.”

According to Tibetan sources, the entire process of retirement for the Dalai Lama is likely to take around one year.

First, the Tibetan parliament does not meet before March 2011. And if it approves the Dalai Lama’s exit, that process will take another six months or so.

The Nobel peace laureate’s recent retirement statement has left Tibetans worried. The reason is obvious.

They are perplexed about who will lead their struggle for greater autonomy for Tibet once the iconic Dalai Lama retires from public life. There would be a leadership vacuum.

It was half a century ago that the Dalai Lama, whom China brands a separatist, fled Tibet after an anti-Communist revolt in 1959 and established his government-in-exile in this Indian town.

The Dalai Lama has indicated on a number of occasions that he is looking for retirement. He had already transferred most of his political powers to the prime minister-in-exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, whom he has addressed as his “boss”.

The Dalai Lama had said last week that the continuation of the Dalai Lama as an institution depended on what the Tibetan people wanted.

“I made it very clear as early as (19)69, if the majority of Tibetan people feel that now the Dalai Lama institution is no more needed, we can finish it,” he said.

In the meantime, the election commission of the government-in-exile has started the process to hold general elections March 20 next year. The Tibetans attach greater importance to the polls as they feel the major political leadership of the government-in-exile is going to rest on the shoulders of the prime minister.

Incumbent Rinpoche, who became the first directly elected prime minister in September 2001, can’t re-contest as the Tibetan charter bars any individual from holding the office for more than two terms.

Lobsang Sangey, a senior fellow from Harvard Law School, has emerged as the frontrunner during the primary poll held Oct 3 to nominate candidates for the prime minister.

Sangey, asked by the voters what he sees as the key responsibilities of the next prime minister, has said: “First, we have to define whether the Kalon Tripa (prime minister) is a leader or an administrator. If Kalon Tripa is simply an administrator, then experience, both institutional and personal, is a must.

“However, His Holiness (the Dalai Lama) himself has stressed … the Kalon Tripa should assume more political leadership.”

He said the primary responsibility was to resolve the Chinese occupation of Tibet and support “our brave compatriots in Tibet”

Nearly six million Tibetans live in Tibet while over 150,000 live in other countries, most of them in India.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

Filed under: Religion

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