SDF will sweep by-election if authorities ensure free & fair environment: Chamling

Gangtok, 18 Oct:

Sikkim Democratic Front president, former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, shared with confidence that if the by-election was held in a free and fair environment, SDF will win all three seats.

He, however, he expressed the worry that the manner in which the administration has been functioning, it was unlikely that the by-elections will free and fair. He further stressed that given this scenario, the poll prospects of his party were not as big a worry for him as the injustice being foisted on the people of the State due to such violation of their fundamental rights.

Addressing a press conference here this evening, Mr Chamling underlined that it was the primary duty of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha government to protect the fundamental rights of the people.

Creating a safe environment for people to exercise their franchise was necessary, he said, while adding that the SKM Government has moved in the opposite direction by trying to terrorise them.

“This is murder of democracy and violation of the Model Code of Conduct,” he added.

Pointing out how his campaign team was attacked recently at Poklok-Kamrang and how the SDF candidate was attacked and even his own daughter injured in political violence unleashed by a desperate SKM, Mr Chamling rued that even the police and district administration had capitulated on their duties and responsibilities.

“Even I was not allowed to campaign freely in Poklok-Kamrang,” he said, while adding that the fear under which the lay people were living must be stifling since even a Chief Minister of 25 years was not safe in today’s Sikkim.

Poklok-Kamrang is a high stakes constituency since SKM president, Chief Minister PS Tamang [Golay], is one of the candidates and needs to win this election to continue as CM.

Mr Chamling today alleged that the law and order situation in Poklok-Kamrang was so vitiated that there was every possibility of booth capturing by the ruling party here.

In this regard, he added that the SKM government has been misusing the government machinery to serve its political needs.

The SDF president mentioned that the party has already informed the concerned authorities about these developments but has not been received a positive response or even assurance from them.

“They can take my life but they cannot end my politics with such acts. My work for Sikkim and its people is not hidden from anyone and the golden era of Sikkim during 25 years of SDF government cannot be forgotten,” he said.

He stressed that the people should vote wisely to save Sikkim.

Responding to allegations that the 10 SDF MLA joining BJP was engineered by him, Mr Chamling said, “I had instead advised our MLAs not to go to other parties and work as a responsible opposition for the people and to protect their rights, but they went against my suggestion.”

He added that this allegation was irrational and not borne out by facts on ground.

“SDF continues to work sincerely and independently. We have fielded candidates for all constituencies going to by-polls while the SKM-BJP alliance exposes beyond doubt that it is the SKM which has sold out to BJP,” he pointed out while adding that a senior BJP leader, Padam Chettri, recently accepted that BJP took the SDF MLAs to weaken Pawan Chamling.

On the argument that the SKM-BJP alliance will help fulfil Sikkim’s long-pending demands, Mr Chamling said that it was the responsibility of the Centre to address these issues and that it was wrong to make seat-sharing a condition for these issues to be resolved.

While insisting that SDF has accepted the verdict of the people and was committed to deliver on its role as a responsible Opposition party, he countered that SKM appears to have forgotten its responsibility as the party in government and remains obsessed with blaming the previous SDF government for everything.

“And while they seek to distract the people with such noise, Sikkim’s interests are being compromised,” he said, pointing out that while SKM cries itself hoarse alleging without evidence that the SDF government had diluted Article 371F, its alliance with BJP has created a very real possibility that the conspiracy to merge Sikkim with Darjeeling will gain traction. “Sikkim will then become a district,” he said.

He advised SKM to concentrate on governance instead of obsessing with threatening people and leaders.

“Just allegations don’t make anyone guilty,” he commented, while adding that instead of constantly screaming CBI, the State Government should bring the CBI into Sikkim and that he would welcome the move as well.