10 SDF MLAs JOIN BJP IN DELHI
Gangtok, 13 Aug:
In a turn of events which had been in the offing for a while now, ten Sikkim Democratic Front legislators today officially joined Bharatiya Janata Party in New Delhi in the presence of BJP working president, JP Nadda, and senior leader, Ram Madhav.
With this, the party which had been in government for 25 years and which had won the popular votes in the assembly elections earlier this year, has been reduced to an effective strength of one in the Legislative Assembly. And, a party which has not won any election at any level in Sikkim thus far, has been handed over the status of the single-largest Opposition party in the State.
Voters in Sikkim had awarded SDF 15 constituencies, and since two of these had to be released for by-elections, the party had an effective strength of 13 in the 32-member Legislative Assembly here.
It may be recalled that two other SDF MLAs, GT Dhungel [Upper Tadong] and Em Prasad Sharma [Namcheybung] had already parted ways from the party high command and sit in the Assembly as SDF-2. With ten of the remaining eleven having decamped to BJP, SDF president, former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, is now the only SDF legislator in the Assembly.
The 10 MLAs who will now wear BJP colours in the Assembly are: DT Lepcha [Gnathang-Machong], NK Subba Maneybung-Dentam], KS Lepcha [Rinchenpong], Tashi Thendup Bhutia [Barfung], Farwanti Tamang [Melli], Raj Kumari Thapa [Rangang-Yangang], Ugen T Gyatso [Tumin-Lingee], KB Rai [Chujachen], DR Thapa [Upper Burtuk] and Pintso Namgyal Lepcha [Dzongu].
PARTY STILL ALIVE, HAS NOT MERGED WITH BJP: SDF
This has confirmed the chatter that had been doing the rounds in the past few weeks of SDF legislators joining BJP.
While news of the joining broke in the morning, SDF held a press meet later in the evening today where its spokespersons confirmed the news and also clarified that these legislators have joined BJP individually and that the party has not been merged with BJP.
However, they also stated that they will comment on its MLAs joining BJP only after discussing and consulting with leaders and cadres of the party at the grassroot level.
SDF spokesperson, KT Gyaltsen, said that the 10 legislators have not resigned from the party and did not give any intimation of their decision to join BJP.
BJP is interested in bringing about a stable government in the State but SDF will stand with Sikkim and its people, said SDF spokesperson, PD Rai. His reference was in the context of SKM not having the numbers to give Sikkim a stable government. SKM currently as 16 MLAs, exactly the halfway mark, SDF has one, there are two in SDF-2, and BJP now has 10. With by-elections slated for three constituencies, politics could get even more contested here.
As things stand though, BJP, which had contested only 13 of the 32 assembly seats in elections earlier this year, and had received less than two percent of the votes with all its candidates losing their deposits [because they did not receive even 6% of the votes polled], is now the main Opposition party in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly occupying 31% of the seats.