Bikram Pradhan unloads on MLAs who switched sides to BJP

Gangtok, 20 Aug:

A section of the Sikkim Democratic Front party cadre has gone public with dissatisfaction over ten of its legislators switching sides and being unable to play the role of the opposition as SDF representatives. Since a senior SDF leader, who was also the party whip at one time, is part of this group, the party could face serious crisis if these ten legislators do not revert their decision to join BJP as is being demanded by this upset section.

SDF’s Bikram Pradhan recently expressed this dissatisfaction on social media and appears to have opened the floodgates of criticism within the party. SDF, it may be recalled, has been very controlled in its comments on the defection by its MLAs and this must have led to some confusion in the ranks.

The ten MLAs in question have reportedly returned to Sikkim and are said to be meeting supporters and explaining their stand.

Now, it is learnt that a section of the SDF party-workers have decided to come out on the streets demanding that the 10 MLAs withdraw their membership from BJP and continue serving as Opposition MLAs of the SDF.

Although SDF gave the party ticket to KB Rai from Chujachen constituency in the recent Assembly election, it was former Chujachen MLA, Bikram Pradhan, who went door-to-door on the directions of the party president to campaign. Even KB Rai had credited Mr Pradhan for his victory in the election.

The area MLA has now joined BJP and has even switched off his phone to avoid questions, Mr Pradhan contends.

He further warned that the ten legislators cannot “sell” the people’s mandate to serve their personal interest without consulting party cadres and supporters.

While the ten legislators claim that they took permission from the party president, Pawan Chamling before joining BJP, Mr Chamling is claiming that his MLAs have betrayed him, Mr Pradhan adds.

At the moment, SDF cadres are faced with a dilemma compounded by the fact they continue to be kept in the dark not only about what happened and why but also what the party plans to do next. This leaves them undecided about whether they should remain in the party or move elsewhere to remain politically engaged and active.

They remain convinced that the 10 MLAs should leave BJP and return to the SDF.

SDF party supporters are also reportedly angry with the BJP for having poached its MLAs despite the clear mandate of the electorate here that they did not want BJP in Sikkim.

Given BJP’s track-record of forming governments through defections and opportunistic alliances, the SDF cadre is apprehensive that the saffron party has similar designs for Sikkim. What they do not want is for a party which was in government in Sikkim for 25 years to allow such backdoor entry into office for BJP.

Consultations are reportedly underway among such aggrieved SDF party workers who, sources inform, have decided to resign en masse from the party from all 31 territorial constituencies if the ten legislators did not come back to the SDF.

Mr Pradhan is insistent that these legislators should return to the SDF respecting the people’s mandate and play the role of a strong and positive opposition for the people for the next five years.

The former MLA also remains suspicious of the BJP and its nationalistic agenda and commented that although BJP leaders have assured to protect the special status of Sikkim, the Prime Minister’s Independence Day message underlined the party’s, ‘One Nation, One Constitution’, ideology and this makes BJP unacceptable to the people of Sikkim. The only relaxation this group is willing to offer its ten MLAs is that if they did not wish to return to SDF, then they should not stay in BJP either.