SKM party leaders during a press conference on Tuesday

Gangtok: The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) on Tuesday demanded the Chief Election Officer (CEO) of Sikkim to give clarity on the postal ballot voters in the state.

Addressing a press meet, SKM social media general secretary Nawaraj Gurung said the total number of postal ballot voters in Sikkim this time is 15,265 as per the Election Commission. He said the SKM contests this figure considering that it is quite a significant jump as compared to 2014 elections. He added the figure does not match the calculations of the party.

“As per our calculations, there should be around 9,400 postal ballot voters in Sikkim who have been engaged in polling duty or for election security duty. There is a huge mismatch between our figure and the number given by the Election Commission. Already we have witnessed many controversies regarding postal ballots and we have our doubts on the number of postal ballot voters. We demand the CEO to give a satisfactory reply to the people of Sikkim regarding postal ballot voters as how and why there is a huge number of postal ballot voters this time,” said Gurung.

Gurung mentioned that there are 500-600 postal ballot voters in each constituency on an average. These postal ballot voters would be crucial in constituencies where there could be close contest, he added.

SKM functionary Tshering Wangchuk Lepcha spoke about village police personnel appointed under the ‘One Family One Job’ scheme. “The ‘One Family One Job’ scheme appointees were done without any cabinet endorsement or Assembly law. The village police personnel, appointed only a couple of months ago, were also given postal ballots which is unfair as political advantage could be taken,” he said.

Voting for the 32 Assembly seats and lone Lok Sabha seat had taken place on April 11. Counting of votes is scheduled on May 23.

SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling appealed those who have still not exercised their postal ballots to do as early as possible. He maintained that the SKM party has strong reports of certain police officers trying to use unfair means regarding postal ballots. Nothing can be hidden in this age of technology. “We know which police officers are involved in coercing their juniors regarding postal ballots. When the SKM government comes, we will launch probe against these officers and strong action will be taken against them if found guilty,” he said.

Khaling maintained that when the votes are counted on May 23, SKM will form the government. “On this day after one month, a new government will come in Sikkim and we are waiting for May 23,” he said.

The SKM spokesperson also expressed dissatisfaction against the lack of action from the CEO regarding the bunch of complaints submitted to the Election Commission. “No action has been taken by the CEO so far over our complaints against Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) for violation of model code of conduct,” he said. We once again appeal the CEO to take action on our complaints and not to allow the trust of the people and political parties fade away against the Election Commission, he added.

Khaling demanded the CEO and Sikkim Police to provide protection to an IRBn jawan who had made allegations against a SDF candidate of trying to unfairly influence the postal ballot voters of Sikkim currently posted in Delhi. “The brave jawan is presently getting threats and his life is at risk. The CEO and Sikkim Police must provide him with security,” he said.

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