The 10 MLAs of the Sikkim Democratic Front with BJP working president JP Nadda and senior BJP leader Ram Madhav in New Delhi on Tuesday

Guwahati: In a major setback for the opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in Sikkim, 10 legislators of the party joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in presence of BJP working president JP Nadda and senior leader Ram Madhav in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Party sources, both in New Delhi and in Gangtok, have confirmed EastMojo that all MLAs, barring SDF president and former CM Pawan Kumar Chamling and the two ‘rebel’ MLAs — GT Dhungel and Em Prasad Sharma, all the other 10 MLAs of the party joined the saffron party on Tuesday morning.

Speculations relating to their joining the BJP came to the fore when the 10 SDF legislators met BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi recently. The SDF delegation had 10 of the 13 party MLAs, excluding party president Chamling, Dhungel and Sharma. The two rebel MLAs reportedly stayed back to form something called ‘SDF-2’, said sources.

The delegation was led by senior SDF leaders and former ministers DT Lepcha, Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia and NK Subba.

Ram 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 the ruling 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 created quite a buzz around the Himalayan state.

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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.

With a thin margin of two seats, the SKM was able to form the government this time. It won 17 seats in comparison to the SDF’s 15 in the 32-member legislative assembly. By-elections in Sikkim are likely to be held in three constituencies soon.

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