Two legislators of the Sikkim Democratic Front joined the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) on Wednesday, a day after 10 SDF leaders switched over to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The SDF, which ruled the Himalayan state for 25 years, is now left with just one legislator even though as many as 13 candidates of the party won 15 seats in the April election to the 32-member assembly. Pawan Kumar Chamling, who ruled the state from 1994 as its chief minister, is the only SDF legislator now.
“I feel only a regional party can understand regional sentiments. The SKM is the appropriate party to join and work for the betterment of Sikkim and the Sikkimese people,“ said GT Dhungel, one of the SDF legislators who joined the ruling party.
Em Prasad Sharma, the other SDF MLA who joined the SKM, said, “The people of Sikkim had given the SDF a task to work as a watchdog and act as a responsible opposition. The 10 SDF MLAs (joining the BJP) would not go well among the voters”.
Dhungel and Sharma had recently attended the House ignoring the SDF’s decision to boycott the proceedings.
“The 10 SDF MLAs joined the BJP for their own interest,” the SKM’s spokesperson Jacob Khaling said while welcoming the two lawmakers into his party’s fold.
After the switch over of the two MLAs to the SKM, its total number of legislators has gone up to 18, while that of the BJP stood at 10.
“What unfolded in Sikkim in the last 24 hours is unprecedented. Never in the history of Sikkim, since it became the 22nd state of India in 1975, did so many legislators of a regional party quit to join a national party (BJP),” political commentator Bhim Rawat said.
The SDF MLAs who joined the BJP include Dorjee Tshering Lepcha, Ugyen Tshering Gyatso, Narendra Kumar Subba, Dilli Ram Thapa, Karma Sonam Lepcha, Krishna Bahadur Rai, Tashi Thendup Bhutia, Farwanti Tamang, Pintso Namgyal Lepcha and Raj Kumari Thapa.
By-polls would be held in three constituencies of Poklok-Kamrang, Gangtok and Martam-Rumtek. These were vacated by one SKM and two SDF legislators, each of whom won from the two constituencies.
In the assembly elections, the BJP did not win a single seat and got only 1.62% of the votes polled. The SDF won 47.63% of the votes polled, while the SKM secured 47.03%. Seventeen is the magic figure in the assembly.