New Delhi, Aug 13 : In a major game changer political initiative, as many as ten sitting MLAs of once influential Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) joined the BJP here on Tuesday. The ten MLAs embraced the membership of the saffron party in the presence of BJP general secretary Ram Madhav. The sitting legislators also met BJP Working President JP Nadda here. The development is significant as Sikkim has been traditionally a regional party bastion and Congress and BJP - both as national parties - have struggled hard to make it big in the crucial north eastern state situated strategically close to China, Bhutan and Nepal.
In the state assembly elections earlier this year, Pawan Kumar Chamling-led SDF suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of another regional outfit Sikkim Krantikari Morcha. Floated in 2013, Sikkim Krantikari Morcha bagged 17 seats, one more than required for a majority in the 32-member Assembly while Mr Chamling's SDF could manage 15 seats. Now, out of fifteen MLAs - ten have moved to the BJP on Tuesday obviously giving the country's ruling party a major boost in its campaign in the north east. Mr Chamling, however, was elected from two Assembly constituencies in the state polls in May.
Ironically for Mr Chamling, his exit from the state Chief Minister's post came about 13 months after he created a history for himself on April 29, 2018 when he had surpassed the record of former West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu by becoming the 'longest serving' Chief Minister of any state in the country. Mr Chamling had first become Chief Minister on December 12, 1994. The Marxist veteran Jyoti Basu ruled West Bengal for 23 years from June 21, 1977 till November 6, 2000 before he gave up the post to his handpicked Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. Sikkim remained a fiefdom of regional parties - prior to Chamling it was Nar Bahadur Bhandari’s Sikkim Sangram Parishad, which remained in power for long.
It is thus more than ironical that the Congress party could form its own governments in all seven north-eastern states could never able to win state assembly polls in Sikkim. Now, out of eight northeastern states including Sikkim, the BJP has its own Chief Minister (s) in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Tripura. It shares power with regional partners in Nagaland and Meghalaya. In Mizoram, MNF is in power and the state-level party is a constituent of the NDA though BJP does not have any MLA in the state.
Present Sikkim chief minister is Prem Singh Tamang of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha - is however, not an elected MLA of the House. The state is thus heading for interesting political developments as there would be by-elections in three assembly seats and BJP leaders have their reasons to say: "BJP will play the role of a constructive opposition in Sikkim".UNI