SDF-2 legislators officially join SKM

Gangtok, 14 Aug:

After ten Sikkim Democratic Front legislators joined Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, two more SDF legislators joined the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party today.

Upper Tadong MLA, GT Dhungel and Namcheybong MLA, Em Prasad Sharma, who had attended the budget session as SDF-2, officially joined SKM in the presence of SKM president, Chief Minister PS Tamang, this afternoon.

With this, SKM now has 18 MLAs in the State Assembly [which currently has 29 MLAs], while former CM, Pawan Chamling is the only SDF legislator left in the Assembly.

The two MLAs, the first to openly challenge the SDF high command when they went against the diktat to boycott assembly sessions until Mr Tamang remained CM, could formalize their SKM crossover after ten of their colleagues joined BJP and brought the SDF legislator strength to three. This way, they no longer attracted anti-defection laws [which leads to defections of below 70% of the party strength leading to disqualification] and could join SKM without risking disqualification.

Addressing a press conference here today, Namcheybong MLA, Mr Sharma expressed that only a regional party can work effectively for the State and its people.

“We are here to work for the people, so we have joined the regional SKM party in the interest of Sikkim and its people,” he stated.

“We were ready to deliver our role of opposition in the State so we even participated in the recent assembly session. We even went against the decision of senior party leaders to join the national party as we wanted to work for the people effectively with regional sentiments,” Mr Sharma said.

Upper Tadong MLA, Mr Dhungel mentioned that 10 SDF MLAs joined a national party so they decided to work for the people by joining the ruling party.

On their reasons for joining SKM, he said that the people of Sikkim prefer a regional party and only a regional party can understand local sentiments and work effectively for the people.

“With mass exodus of SDF MLAs to BJP, we decided to work for the people by sitting in the regional party by respecting their mandate,” he said.

Responding to media queries, Mr Sharma said, “We wanted to work for the people as a strong opposition but after 10 MLAs joined BJP we were left with no option but to work with the ruling party for the people.”

He also added that SDF had become undemocratic and they could no longer voice their views openly within the party.

On whether this would affect SKM’s relations with the centre, SKM spokesperson, Jacob Khaling stated that the state government always works in coordination and harmony with the centre in a federal system.

“We are working with BJP for the people of Sikkim but the 10 SDF MLAs joined BJP just to save themselves,” he said.

Mr Khaling further alleged that Pawan Chamling was behind all this.

Responding to queries on upcoming by-elections in the State, Mr Khaling stated that the move of 10 SDF MLAs will only increase the winning margin of SKM in the by-elections.