Tibetan 'parliament' discusses Dalai's retirement plea

Succession issue: Spiritual leader holds fort, House looks at middle-path to salvage pride

Even as the Dalai Lama’s decision to retire seems more imminent than ever, especially after Monday’s emotional and fervent appeal he made to the parliament to allow him to relinquish charge, House Speaker Penpa Tsering said the possibility of a mid path, under which roles are segregated by making elected Tibetan representatives responsible for executive affairs and the Dalai Lama for political affairs, is wide open.

Ever since he announced his plans to give up the political mentorship on March 10, Dalai Lama has been flooded with messages to reconsider his decision. The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso, however, has declined all and is determined to stick to his decision to quit, his close aide said.

The House put off the decision on the issue until at least Tuesday when Tibetan parliamentarians reassemble to share their views before a collection sense of the House is evolved.

In case the Dalai Lama is offered the mid-path by the Tibetan parliament and he sees enough reason to accept it— even at the cost of giving prudence to China’s allegation that the spiritual head has been using such “lies as political tricks” in the past as well— it will relieve the Dalai Lama of many of the tedious functions he has been performing for long by virtue of his political and administrative status, including many ceremonial responsibilities like signing of bills adopted by the legislative body of the Tibetans.
Dalai Lama’s message, in Tibetan language, was read out before a somber parliament as soon as the budget session began. Experts read the Dalai Lama’s decision as a clear drift from its long standing ideology, which to an extent was concurred on Monday by the Dalai Lama in his statement.

The Buddhist leader says “he no more wants the Tibetan exiled administration to depend on the Dalai Lama, instead, it be self-reliant  while he (Dalai Lama) is able and healthy.”

Candidly admitting shortcoming, the spiritual head admitted that “the general lack of experience and political maturity in our democratic institutions has prevented them from taking this decision earlier”.

The Dalai Lama asked the parliament to change the title of Ganden Phodrang—the supreme leader of the Tibetans — that he held for 67 years. He assumed the political responsibility when he was 18 and had been the political and spiritual head of Tibetans. Many feel the Dalai Lama, with or without his designated role, will continue to call the shots.

Not the first time
In fact, it is not the first time that the Buddhist leader has offered to denounce his political role. In the past, the chief justice commissioner and chairman of the thirteenth assembly of the Tibetan People’s Deputies (this is the fourteenth assembly in progress) were informed by the Dalai Lama of his plans to quit.

On August 31, 2010, during the first Tibetan general meeting, “I explained this aspect of my retirement in detail. The proposal was not even considered,” he said.

Dalai Lama said he wants the Tibetan parliamentarians to prepare for the future after him. He said if Tibet has to remain in exile for several more decades, a time will inevitably come when he will no longer be able to provide leadership.

What Dalai Lama said in his message: “I want to acknowledge that many of my fellow Tibetans, inside and outside Tibet, have earnestly requested me to continue to give political leadership at this critical time. In 2001, the Tibetan people elected the Kalon Tripa, the political leader for the first time. Since then, I have been in semi-retirement, I am not devolving political authority, because I’m disheartened or shirking responsibility. Tibetans should continue their struggle till the issue is resolved.
Options before Parliament

The House Speaker said the parliamentarians will exert the option either to accept the proposal, reject it, request him again to reconsider or suggest him the middle-path. “The decision on the issue could be during this session ending this week or it can be put off for the next house. The elections are due on March 20,” he said.

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