Weak opposition to help ruling front in Gangtok | india | Hindustan Times
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Weak opposition to help ruling front in Gangtok

The eighth assembly and Lok Sabha elections will held simultaneously in the Himalayan state of Sikkim. It will be a close contest between the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and the Congress. However the failure of opposition parties to forge an alliance has come as an advantage for the SDF which won 31 of 32 assembly seats in 2004 assembly elections. The Congress had won only one seat that year.

india Updated: Apr 30, 2009 01:52 IST
Pramod Giri

The eighth assembly and Lok Sabha elections will held simultaneously in the Himalayan state of Sikkim. It will be a close contest between the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) and the Congress. However the failure of opposition parties to forge an alliance has come as an advantage for the SDF which won 31 of 32 assembly seats in 2004 assembly elections. The Congress had won only one seat that year.

This assembly election is considered as the toughest that the three-time chief minister and SDF chief, Pawan Chamling, has faced. Chamling is facing corruption charges and is accused of dividing the Sikkimese society along caste lines.

The charges of corruption and divide and rule have been hurled by the Congress-led Opposition, headed by former CM Nar Bahadur Bhandari. He led the government for 15 years till 1994.

The ruling SDF and the Congress have fielded candidates in all 32 seats. Two regional parties, Sikkim Gorkha Prajatantrik Party and Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad are fielding 28 candidates each. Chamling and Bhandari are contesting from two constituencies each.

The SDF's poll issue is development. It has promised to make Sikkim a model state and is harping on sentimental issues of getting the scheduled tribes status for all the Sikkimese people.

Political observers are expecting a tough contest between the SDF and the Congress in at least 20 seats. The Congress in its election manifesto has promised to retain reservation of assembly seats for the Nepalese living in the hill state. These seats were done away with in 1979, four years after Sikkim became the 22nd state of India.

Seven candidates are contesting for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Sikkim.