After months of speculation over his retirement, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Wednesday declared that the future course of the movement that he spearheaded for nearly five decades will now be decided by 'Prime Minister of government-in-exile' Samdhong Rinpoche.
"I have grown old and already taken semi-retirement. It is better if I retire completely and get out of the way of the Tibetan movement," the 73-year-old Nobel laureate, who recently underwent surgery, told reporters at Dharamshala after an interaction with Himachal Pradesh legislators.
"The future course of the Tibetan movement will be decided by the elected government under Prime Minister Samdhong Rinpoche," the Tibetan temporal head said.
The Dalai Lama's statement came just three weeks after a key conclave of exiled Tibetans virtually put on notice the Dalai's "'Middle Path' approach on dialogue with China. They declared that they will be forced to demand full independence if no concrete results emerged.
The Dalai Lama said, "Henceforth, your questions about the future course of Tibetan movement and talks with China would be answered by the (Tibetan) Prime Minister in exile".
Rinpoche was sharing the dais with the Dalai Lama along with Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal and Speaker Tulsi Ram.
The Dalai Lama said his complete retirement would strengthen democracy in Tibet.
"How long shall I continue to lead the Tibetan movement?" he asked and referred to democratic tradition in India where parties come to power through elections.
The Dalai Lama had visited 'Tapovan', the new assembly building of Himachal Pradesh, on invitation of the Speaker.
On the Mumbai terror attacks, the Dalai Lama said he shared the pain of the Indian people over such incidents which 'come in the way of world peace'.
"Only people who have lost mental balance can indulge in such terrorist acts," he said.
Describing India as 'role model for non-violence and religious tolerance', the Tibetan spiritual leader said the country could guide the world in establishment of peace.
"Indian democracy is age old and in modern times too, it presents a good example for others," he said.
"Different religions like Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism co-exist in India in a healthy environment.... India shall guide the world how to run wonderful democracy," he added.
The spiritual leader, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, said he felt like a citizen of Himachal Pradesh. He has been staying at Mcleodganj, 15 km from Dharamshala, in Kangra district of the state.
"I have stayed here for a long time. The love and respect given by the people here makes me feel that I am a citizen of Himachal Pradesh," he said.
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