SKM and BJP sweep byelections in Sikkim; big win for Tamang

Published : October 24, 2019 17:04 IST

Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang arrives at the North Eastern Council (NEC) in Guwahati, Assam, on September 8. Photo: PTI

The ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) of Sikkim and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had entered into an electoral understanding before the byelections to the three constituencies of Poklok-Kamrang, Gangtok and Martam-Rumtek, have won all three seats. While the Chief Minister and SKM candidate Prem Singh Tamang Golay (popularly known as Prem Singh Golay) won from Poklok-Kamrang securing 84 per cent of the votes, the BJP candidates Sonam Vengchungpa and Yong Tshering Lepcha won from Martam-Rumtek and Gangtok respectively.

The victory was crucial for Tamang, whose candidacy for the post of Chief Minister was under a cloud even after leading his party to a narrow victory over the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in the Assembly election earlier this year on account of his conviction in a corruption case in 2017. However, with the Election Commission of India (ECI) reducing his disqualification period from six years to one year in September, Tamang was able to file his nomination for the byelection at the last moment.

With the byelection results, the SKM has 19 seats, the BJP 12 and the SDF one, in the 32-member Sikkim Assembly. What is unique is that the BJP, with the second-highest number of seats in the Assembly, has become an ally of the ruling party rather than the main opposition party. In August, 10 MLAs from the SDF, which had won 15 seats in the Assembly election, defected to the BJP, making the latter the main opposition in the State even though it secured only 1.62 per cent of the votes. With the two parties joining forces a month later, the SDF with its lone MLA—former Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling—is at present the only opposition in the State.

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