Sikkim: BJP Goes From 0 to 10 In Two Months, Becomes Principal Opposition Party
The Bhartiya Janta Party(BJP) on Tuesday entered the last Northeastern state of Sikkim after 10 MLAs of the principal opposition party Sikkim Democratic Front(SDF) switched over. The BJP which won ‘zero’ seats in the assembly elections held earlier this year is now the principal opposition party.
Although SDF founder Pawan Kumar Chamling is still with the SDF, Dorjee Tshering Lepcha who served as a minister in his cabinet earlier has switched to the saffron party.
In the assembly election held this year, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha had won 17 seats. The SDF won 15 seats in the assembly polls but the party founder Pawan Kumar Chamling and Dorjee Tshering Lepcha had won from two seats, one of which they will vacate. Thus SDF’s strength which was 13 is now reduced to just 3.
From 1999 to 2014, the SDF dominated the Sikkim Assembly with Chamling as the chief minister. In 2009 the party swept the assembly elections winning all the 32 seats, while in 2014 the SDF got 22 seats.
The development comes in as a surprise since three of the assembly seats are still vacant. The SKM legislator Kunga Nima Lepcha who also contested from two seats will also vacate one seat. If the BJP wins all the three seats it’s tally will be 13.
Moreover, the state’s Chief Minister Prem Sing Tamang is convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act and has lost right to contest any election till 2024, as per a News18 report. Tamang’s request to let him contest the byelection to retain his chair as CM is still pending with the election commission.
In 2016 when the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) was formed under the leadership of Himanta Biswa Sarma, Chamling also joined the alliance. A former Indian National Congress MLA Sarma switched to BJP in 2016. He is the chief strategist of the saffron party till date.
Sarma is also said to be the one behind the defections by the TMC MLA’s and the BJP’s success in Bengal in the Lok Sabha elections held this year. With Sarma as the strategist, many ups and downs can be expected in Sikkim politics.