Gangtok: Merger talks of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have been rife, ever since two of its legislators — GT Dhungel and Em Prasad Sharma — cited the same to be reason for the formation of “SDF 2” during Sikkim Legislative Assembly’s budget session last week.
What makes matters worse for SDF is a photo shared by BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav which had 10 of the 13 MLAs excluding party president and former chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling but including former ministers DT Lepcha, Ugen T Gyatso and NK Subba, who may have led the delegation.
Madhav has been at the helm of breaking Sikkim-related political developments via his Twitter account. He created a buzz in Sikkim prior to the general elections when Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) and current chief minister Prem Singh Golay were similarly pictured and tweeted by him. Similarly, Madhav’s tweet of SDF MLAs meeting him has created quite a buzz around the Himalayan state.
Madhav, BJP’s in-charge for the Northeast, took to Twitter saying, “Delighted to receive 9 legislators of the opposition SDF from Sikkim who came to extend support for BJP.” He further shared pictures of the meeting with the SDF delegation captioned: “Delegation of legislators of SDF called on Shri. Ram Madhavji to handover their support,” further triggering doubts on the meeting.
On the meeting with the BJP leader, SDF spokesperson Avinash Yakha told EastMojo that the meeting was merely a courtesy call by the SDF legislators as an NDA ally. “It was just a courtesy call as we have been a constituent of the BJP-led NDA, [and] had not met him after the election. We congratulated the BJP for forming the government at the Centre for the second term with majority,” said Yakha over phone from Delhi.
On whether SDF was planning to join the saffron party, Yakha maintained that SDF has been getting positive feelers including the Sikkim’s BJP unit. “There is an invitation to join but our party has not taken any concrete decision on the matter.”
SKM has already solidified its claim as a BJP ally since the 2019 elections and the same was evident before the election when the pre-poll alliance talks made the rounds. A worthy mention to the debacle would be how SDF and its president Chamling, prior to the election blamed SKM for siding with BJP at the centre, terming the same as “inviting outsiders to Sikkim”.
According to the SDF spokesperson, the party MLAs apprised Madhav on the pending political demands pursued by it with a request to the centre to continue the special status and development of Sikkim as initiated by the SDF in its 25-year-long regime.
“We also raised the issue of tribal status of 11 left out communities of the State also requested for Limboo-Tamang Assembly seat reservation by expanding the Legislative Assembly to 40 seats as given reserved seats from the existing 32 seats will be a gross injustice to 60% of majority community. We submitted that the 11 left out communities should be accorded ST status as was enjoyed before being part of the Indian union,” said Yakha.
On the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and fears of similar move in Sikkim in relation to Article 371F, the SDF MLAs told Madhav that Sikkim had merged in the Indian union through a public referendum and should not be tampered with. “He told that the BJP has no such plans for Sikkim because BJP does what it says. We had mentioned the Jammu and Kashmir issue in our manifesto. There is no need for the Sikkimese people to be worried.”
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