Gangtok, 04 Nov:
Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang [Golay] was sworn in as a Member of Sikkim Legislative Assembly on Monday along with Sonam Tshering Venchungpa and YT Lepcha, all three elected at the recently-held by-election.
Mr Tamang contested and won from Poklok-Kamrang after the Election Commission of India reduced his disqualification period [following the jail term he served on a corruption conviction] while Mr Venchungpa and Mr Lepcha won on BJP tickets from Martam-Rumtek and Gangtok respectively, victories ensured by a seat-sharing alliance entered into with the party in office.
Interestingly, while many speculations had abounded about what shape the BJP-SKM seat sharing arrangement will grow into after the by-elections, with many convinced that a BJP-SKM alliance government would be formalized, events today suggest that such an announcement is not coming in a hurry.
Referring to the seat sharing arrangement in his valedictory remarks, Mr Tamang highlighted that history had been made.
“This is for the first time in the political history of Sikkim that a ruling party supported an opposition party contest the elections and win the mandate of the people,” he explained.
What cannot be lost in the observation is that BJP has been clearly referenced as an Opposition party and not an alliance partner in government. While SKM has never admitted to the seat-sharing arrangement being anything more than a seat-sharing alliance, the messaging from BJP had hinted otherwise.
It did not help matters that BJP, which had arrived at the special assembly session believing that it had 12 MLAs in the House, left realizing that it officially has only two members in the House. The 10 MLAs who had defected to the BJP from the SDF shortly after being voted into the Opposition are still not recognised as the saffron party’s MLAs.
While announcements had been made that some national-level BJP leaders would be attending the swearing-in ceremony today, none of them made it to the visitors’ gallery. Also deciding to skip the special session was former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling from whose second seat released for by-elections, Mr Tamang recorded a landslide victory.
During the assembly session, the Speaker informed the House that Members who had switched to other parties [12 SDF MLAs, 10 of whom had joined BJP and two who had jumped ship to SKM] have not submitted all required documents to the Assembly and have been asked to do so before the next assembly session.
It is informed that if any MLAs leaves the original party and joins another party, then a petition with proper evidence of resolution or leaving the original party and resolution of acceptance by the new party have to be submitted to the Speaker.
The 10 SDF MLAs who have joined BJP have submitted a plain application with no evidence of their resignation from SDF or their acceptance by BJP, hence on their request, the Speaker has given them temporary separate seating arrangement in the assembly.
It is informed that after the submission of their evidence the Speaker would scrutinise and make a decision.
As things stand then, SKM currently has 17 MLAs, BJP has two, SDF one and there are 12 unattached MLAs, who, on paper, are still SDF.
Speaking to media person after the session, BJP state-unit spokesperson, MLA Raj Kumari Thapa, one of the 10 who had joined BJP, said that their documents were now ready and will be submited before the next assembly session. This was echoed by MLAs DT Lepcha and Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia.
In his valedictory remarks, the CM thanked and congratulated the Speaker for successfully conducting the one-day Session of the Assembly and also thanked all Ministers, MLAs, Chief Secretary, DGP, Advisors, All Heads of Departments and officers, Secretary, officers and staff of Sikkim Legislative Assembly, retired bureaucrats, police, and members of the press and media.
He registered a special thanks to the people of Sikkim for their resounding mandate and assured sincere commitment for the development of Sikkim.
The Speaker, in his address, congratulated the Chief Minister and the two MLAs who were sworn-in as Members of the Legislative Assembly today. He also thanked the CM, Ministers and MLAs for their support and guidance in conducting the one-day Session of the Assembly.
After the oath or affirmation, all Members of the House offered khadas and congratulated the three new Members of the Sikkim Legislative Assembly.
Responding to media queries after the assembly session, the CM stated that SKM government would work on all promises it has made to the people.
On his plans to travel to Delhi, the CM informed that he was also leaving to attend an investors’ meet with the Prime Minister in Himachal Pradesh scheduled to be held on 07 and 08 November.
Clearly inspired by the Prime Minister who had bowed down and prayed before he entered the Parliament as an MP for the first time, Gangtok MLA YT Lepcha took off his shoes outside the State Legislative Assembly and attended the swearing-in ceremony barefeet.
The Assembly was the temple of the democracy and was the place to give the justice to the people, he explained.
Likewise, Martam-Rumtek MLA, Mr Venchungpa said, “It is a big moment for me to enter into the State Assembly as an MLA and receive this opportunity to work for the people for the next four and half years.”