August 19, 2019

Gangtok, 18 Aug:

Sikkim Progressive Youth Forum, under the banner of Citizens' Forum  of Sikkim, took  out a protest rally here today against the 12 Sikkim Democratic Front MLAs who, within two months of the election results, bailed from the party on whose ticket they won and divvied into Bharatiya Janata Party and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha.

The rally condemned the crossovers as a mockery of the people's mandate and demanded that the 12 MLAs resign from the Legislative Assembly on moral grounds.

SPYF's Shankar Sharma, the forum does not have a heirarchy of office-bearers, while addressing the media at the start of the rally, stated that they would not have any objections if the MLAs who have defected resigned and won the resulting by-elections as candidates of the parties they now belong to.

Today's rally started from Amdo Golai at Indira Bypass and culminated at the District Administrative Centre at Sichey.

The marchers carried banners proclaiming their condemnation and demands and were joined by Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee president, Bharat Basnet, Sikkim Subjects Committee's Nawin Kiran and representatives from other NGOs and social organisations.

SPYF had sent out an appeal to all stakeholders of democracy to join the rally. The turnout was not as huge as the buzz on social media projected, but they made their point and registered in public what a sizeable number of the people here are privately feeling.

The organizers also commented today that response to their call for support would be a reflection of the democratic credentials of the people who otherwise vent with fury in their claims to support democracy. They must have been let down because while the police turned up  in large numbers, attracting the comment of “police state” from SPYF members, attendance was slim.

The organisation also announced today that if their demand for resignations remains ignored, they will continue their protest in other forms.

While the organisation had wanted to take out the rally through the highway from Deorali to Titanic, the police authorities after dithering over their request for permission, eventually granted permission along with the request that they take the alternate route taken today. As per SPYF, the police cited "internal security problem" as the reason.

It may be recalled that 10 SDF legislators joined the BJP in New Delhi on 14 August and a day later, the MLAs who had gone against the party decision to boycott assembly proceedings, now freed of attracting disqualification under anti-defection laws joined the SKM.

SDF, which had been awarded 15 constituencies by voters here, is now left with only one MLA in the SDF party president Pawan Chamling.

Expectedly, SKM supporters stayed away from today’s rally since their party too has gained two MLAs from the SDF defections, but it was the silence from SDF camp which has raised eyebrows.

The ten former SDF MLAs are reportedly still camped in New Delhi and given BJP’s track-record with such moves, speculations are rife on how the political scene in Sikkim could get further muddied.

Meanwhile, SPYF has become the first non-political outfit to call out the latest development and it remains to be seen whether their stand gains any traction or how the organization negotiates the turbulence which is bound to result from the currently very fluid politics of Sikkim.

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