Gangtok: Sikkim's main opposition party Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) has put forth an eight-point Common Minimum Programme (CMP) as a precondition before finalising an alliance deal with the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP).
The SKM insisted that it was the BJP who was keen on having it as a partner, which led to party president PS Golay leading a seven-member team to meet BJP national president Amit Shah and general secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi last week. Preliminary talks for an alliance was held for the formation of a combined force to
take on ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in the upcoming Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in the state.
On Tuesday, SKM leaders Jacob Khaling, Bikash Basnet and Sonam Bhutia shared the details about the alliance with BJP as endorsed by the party meeting held at the Singling residence of Golay on Monday. “There is no objection from the party members for having an electoral alliance with the BJP. The decision taken on Monday was communicated to the BJP leadership and they will get back to us within today or tomorrow,” said Khaling.
In the 8-point CMP, the Citizenship (Ammendment) Bill features prominently. "The first condition is that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 will not be implemented in Sikkim. When the Bill is tabled in Rajya Sabha, it will be with an amendment stating that Sikkim is exempted from the Act. We are doing this to protect our people,” said Basnet.
The party has also included in the CMP the reservation of Limboo-Tamang Assembly seats once the government is formed. "The BJP leaders have told us that everything is ready for the reservation and would be done within a year of forming the next government," said Basnet, adding: "Inclusion of the 11 left-out communities of Sikkim in the Central ST list, restoration of lost Nepali seats in the Sikkim Legislative Assembly, full protection of Article 371F, Rule 4(4), old laws and special Constitutional provisions of Sikkim are some of the other issues that have been included in the CMP. I-T exemption to all Sikkimese including the old settlers, CBI probe on politicians in Sikkim accused of indulging in corruption have also been raised."
On the common rhetoric of keeping a national party at bay from Sikkim, the party stated, "SKM president PS Golay guarantees to the people that no injustice would happen to the minorities of Sikkim due to our alliance with BJP."
On seat sharing, the party said: “We are declaring the candidates within this week. Seat sharing will happen but how many seats (to each party) has not been finalised. We will fulfil our responsibility in the alliance, and are hopeful that BJP will do the same with the realisation of common minimum programme," said the SKM spokesperson, maintaining that the alliance with the BJP was not related with funds.
Asserting that the SKM was in no need of alliance and BJP being targeted as a support after elections, Khaling said: "For the pending political demands of Sikkim, we reached an alliance, else we can win the upcoming election on our own as well. It is not a matter of only winning the elections for us. More important is to run the government which can fulfil the aspirations of the people. For this, support of Centre is necessary. The economy of Sikkim is also in a mess under the SDF government and the new government will need financial support from the Centre."
SKM spokesperson Bhutia said that the alliance was a vote of confidence from the national party on SKM to form the government this time in Sikkim.
“The nation’s largest party has confidence on us. Why? The BJP has already done a survey and taken inputs from various sources that the SDF is a losing horse this election. The BJP national leadership has the report that this time people in Sikkim have faith in SKM and that is why they are interested in the alliance. It is a big stamp that the BJP has given that change is inevitable in Sikkim this time,” said Bhutia.
Khaling pointed out that the ruling SDF was also in the alliance of Congress-led UPA for two terms and now in BJP led-NDA for one term.
“The SDF was with the UPA for two terms and is with the NDA now. But where is the common minimum programme of the SDF? Where is the common minimum programme of the SDF party while joining the NEDA too? The alliance with UPA and NDA was not done in the interests of Sikkim but with a single agenda of protecting one person from CBI probe into the corruption allegations,” added the SKM spokesperson.