Guwahati: A day after 10 Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) leaders joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), two more SDF legislators on Wednesday joined the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM). The party remains confident it has numbers on its side – the SKM’s strength has increased to 18 while the BJP has 10 members, and is the main opposition party in the Himalayan state with Dorjee Tshering Lepcha as Leader of the Opposition.
Former Sikkim Chief Minister and SDF President Pawan Kumar Chamling refrained from shifting to the other side and is now the lone SDF legislator in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Em Prasad Sharma, SDF legislator from Namcheybong constituency who joined the SKM along with Upper Tadong MLA GT Dhungel, claimed that the 10 SDF legislators joined BJP "only for power".
“We are to work for the people, to do something for our new generation. The 10 SDF MLAs joined the BJP only for power. The SDF had decided against a pre-poll alliance with the BJP or any other party, and now they wish to follow the saffron ideology. Even senior party leaders had said they won’t tie up with the BJP. My decision to join the SKM has been supported by many, especially the youth,” said Sharma.
Both Sharma and Dhungel had defied the SDF’s decision last month to boycott the Assembly budget session — their presence gave a majority to the ruling party and helped the passage of Bills in the House.
Sharma remained confident of defeating the BJP in the upcoming bypoll.
“Dorjee Tshering Lepcha and Pawan Kumar Chamling had contested and won from two constituencies. We became the opposition party with 15 members, but then we were left with 13. Minister Kunga Nima Lepcha had also won from two constituencies, and the SKM was then left with 16. Now, the bypolls would be held in three places and we will win them all, taking our number up to 21. The BJP will remain at 10,” said Sharma, allaying apprehensions of the BJP playing the Arunachal Pradesh card in Sikkim.
“In Sikkim, the public have always voted for the party in government,” he added.
People in the Northeast are familiar with the BJP’s strategy in the past — the party had seized power in Arunachal Pradesh in 2016 when Pema Khandu, along with 32 legislators of the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), joined the BJP. Khandu had won the 2014 Assembly polls on a Congress ticket, but defected to the PPA to become the chief minister in September 2016.