2 ‘rebel’ SDF MLAs switch to SKM, Chamling lone party legislator
Gangtok: A day after 10 MLAs from Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) were formerly inducted into the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), two rebel MLAs from ‘SDF 2’, GT Dhungel and Em Prasad Sharma, were welcomed to the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), taking the tally of the ruling party MLAs to 18. The two MLAs, earlier seen running a dissidence campaign against the defection, have now left former chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling alone in the party.
Flanked by SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling, the duo told a news conference that they were joining the SKM as they were averse to the plan of joining a national party. "We have regional sentiments and every Sikkimese opts to support a regional party. Hence, we are here to join a regional ruling party in Sikkim Krantikari Morcha. We want to assert that as legislators we are here to work for our people. SDF party was boycotting the Assembly sessions, camping in New Delhi for 25-26 days, and all this while ignoring the services they must render to the public. They ignored the opinions and sentiments of the people and joined the BJP,” said Em Prasad Sharma.
On resigning from the SDF, the two MLAs asserted that they will tender their resignation once they receive the resignation of those 10 MLAs from SDF who joined BJP. "We may tender our resignation today itself, but that is still in discussion as to when", stated Sharma. Later in the day, the two MLAs formally met the Chief Minister and SKM President Prem Singh Golay and submitted their memorandum to be a part of the SKM party as its legislators.
"Regional parties are more convenient for the local people than a national party, they are best suited to address the regional issues, we have taken this step with that mind-set and we will continue our support to a regional party and stay put with a regional party. The works for our constituency needed to be on record. Hence, we decided to join the budget session in the state legislative assembly. Inside the Assembly, we had stayed as SDF 2,” said Sharma, a first-time MLA.
Terming the defection as mass exodus, Dhungel said ‘SDF 2’ doesn’t exist and it was mere separate seating in the Assembly away from the opposition bench. "Even till today, we are with SDF, but upon seeing the mass exodus of SDF MLAs to BJP, we had no other option but to show interest in regional parties. There is long-term politics at disposal with a regional party, especially in the case of Em Prasad Sharma,” he added.
Dhungel was also critical on the position of BJP in Sikkim so far, who were able to garner mere 1.62% of votes and having never won a single Assembly, Panchayat or civic body seat in the state. "Respecting the people’s mandate we have taken this decision here today. We will be joining SKM. The chief minister is the highest authority in the state and when he urges to work for the people and show representation in the Assembly, we must respect that,” he said.
The rebel SDF duo also termed the mass defection as the individual decision of the 10 MLAs saying the public reaction was evident. They, however, claimed of having held thorough discussion with the people of their respective constituencies before taking the decision. On past cases of defection to other parties, Sharma said: "There are no background deals or promises made, the only promises are for the people. We even had argument with the now BJP legislators concerning the same practice.”