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Sikkim opposition parties set for pre-poll alliance against Chamling

If the tie-up eventually materialises, it will be the first time an alliance of opposition parties will be forged in the 44-year history of Sikkim. The state is due to hold assembly elections this year.

kolkata Updated: Jan 16, 2019 21:30 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Sikkim,Pawan Chamling,Bhaichung Bhutia
Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling during a meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. (PTI File Photo)

Opposition parties in Sikkim are set to forge an alliance in a bid to challenge the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) led by Pawan Chamling that has been ruling the tiny Himalayan state since 1994.

As a first step, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) president P S Golay and Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) vice-president Bhaichung Bhutia on Tuesday held a closed-door meeting for 40 minutes in Gangtok.

If the tie-up eventually materialises, it will be the first time an alliance of opposition parties will be forged in the 44-year history of Sikkim. The state is due to hold assembly elections this year.

“The meeting was positive and we discussed various issues on Sikkim. We will again meet on January 31 along with the executive committee members of both parties,” said Golay.

After the meeting, both Golay and Bhutia said the two parties will work together for the people of Sikkim.

“We will continue the discussion and are open to do everything for Sikkim and its people. We will work collectively,” said Bhutia, a former India football team captain.

HSP spokesperson Biraj Adhikari said, “The move by SKM and HSP may lead to formation of a pre-poll alliance for the first time.”

Pawan Chamling has been ruling the state since 1994 when he vanquished the Sikkim Sangram Parishad led by Nar Bahadur Bhandari, who had a 15-year-long reign.

Incidentally, Chamling has already announced some measures to ensure a record sixth term as chief minister.

These measures include 20,000 new government jobs that take the ratio of government job holders to the total population of the state to 1:6 and a promise that SDF will roll out a universal basic income if returned to power.

“Even if the alliance fructifies, it would not affect SDF, as the opposition have no principles. SDF is deeply rooted in people’s heart,” said K T Gyaltsen, SDF spokesperson.

In the 2014 assembly polls, SDF won 22 seats, while SKM won 10. Right now, while SKM has only two MLAs, SDF has 29, thanks to defections. There is a lone independent MLA, who happens to be Pawan Chamling’s brother.

The erstwhile kingdom of Sikkim became the 22nd state of India in 1975.

First Published: Jan 16, 2019 21:30 IST