(From left) SPCC president Bharat Basnett and working president Dr Dipendra Gurung

Gangtok: Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (SPCC) on Friday announced the second list of candidates for the state Assembly elections, featuring 16 candidates.

With the announcement, the Congress is now set to contest in all 32 seats of the Assembly with state unit president Bharat Basnett contesting from Namcheybong constituency. The 61-year-old politician was earlier declared as a Lok Sabha candidate for the party.

The 16 new candidates for the assembly elections are, Phuchung Lepcha (Rinchenpong), Passang Gyalchen Sherpa (Daramdin), Sandup Lepcha (Barfung), Kamala Rai (Namchi-Singithang), Tanka Nath Adhikari (Rangang-Yangang), Sangkit Lepcha (Tumin-Lingee), Binod Tikhatri (West Pendam), Bharat Basnett (Namcheybong), Chewang Dorjee Bhutia (Shyari), Sonam Tshering Bhutia (Martam-Rumtek), Anita Gurung (Upper Tadong), Sumitra Rai (Arithang), Aita Tamang (Upper Burtuk), Gyurmik Yauseel Bhutia (Kabi-Lungchuk) and Acharya Karma Tashi Bhutia (Lachen-Mangan).

SPCC working president Dr Dipendra Gurung said, “Congress has given importance to grassroots party workers while selecting the candidates. We are going to the election campaign telling the people that the Congress is committed towards protection of Article 371F which provides special Constitutional privileges for Sikkim.”

Gurung also put forth the stand of the SPCC on the Limboo-Tamang Assembly seat reservation issue. “Our stand is that the Limboo and Tamang seats must be provided from within the existing 32 Assembly seats. Any changes in the present Assembly strength which was provided under Article 371F would mean dilution of Article 371F,” he added.

SPCC president Basnett urged the Election Commission of India (ECI) not to delay or create hurdles with regards to paper work during nominations. “The Congress party is ready for the Sikkim elections and to fight the electoral battle against the regional political parties. ECI needs to intervene in the problems faced by the candidates, especially those of remote areas. Due to holidays, our remote candidates are facing hurdles to complete the paperwork for the nominations. The authorities concerned are also raising hurdles and delaying the paperwork of the candidates. The ECI must take this on a serious note so that elections are held as per democracy,” he added.

The state will be facing Assembly elections simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls on April 11.

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