All is not well with the SKM-BJP ‘alliance’

Gangtok, 21 Feb:

All is not well with the SKM-BJP alliance and the recent appointment of Martam-Rumtek MLA, Sonam Venchungpa as chairperson of Denzong Cooperative Society Limited has further deepened the cracks.

While leaders of both parties refused to make any official comments on record, they have hinted at souring of the SKM-BJP relationship.

The two parties are unhappy about the other disregarding the conditions laid down when the alliance was forged prior to the 2019 by-polls.

According to sources, BJP has not taken well to only Mr Venchungpa, an SKM leader loaned to BJP as a result of the alliance, being given government office. Also appointed advisors to state government departments were Em Prasad Sharma and GT Dhungel, the two SDF MLAs who had parted from their colleagues and joined SKM instead of going to BJP like the rest.

A senior BJP leader raised questions about why the rest of the BJP MLAs were ignored by the SKM government.

BJP, even though it now has 12 MLAs, has only one from its own ranks in YT Lepcha, who ha been with the BJP for some years now and who won the Gangtok by-election. The remaining 11 BJP MLAs comprise of 10 who won on SDF tickets and then switched sides and Mr Venchungpa who was loaned by SKM to the saffron party to contest the by-election on a BJP ticket.

“BJP is not happy with the SKM Government appointing only one MLA from BJP in the post of chairman. They could have at least appointed YT Lepcha who won the by-election as the SKM-BJP pre-poll alliance candidate,” said one BJP Leader.

The by-election was held in three constituencies of Gangtok, Martam-Rumtek and Poklok-Kamrang, last October.

The SKM-BJP pre-bypoll alliance helped BJP register wins in two constituencies for the first time in the history of Sikkim politics while alliance partners SKM did not field any candidates in these two constituencies.

In the third constituency of Poklok-Kamrang, SKM fielded PS Tamang while BJP did not field any candidate, thus ensuring two-way contests between the BJP-SKM and SDF in all three constituencies.