BJP ends alliance with SKM; to contest Lok Sabha, assembly polls in Sikkim alone

BJP ends alliance with SKM; to contest Lok Sabha, assembly polls in Sikkim alone

Gangtok | The BJP on Saturday called off its alliance with the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) and announced that the party would go alone in the simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections in the Himalayan state.

The SKM, on the other hand, did not rule out the possibility of a post-poll alliance with the BJP on the lines of a similar arrangement made after the 2019 polls.

The announcement to fight the upcoming polls alone was made by state BJP president D R Thapa, who returned to Sikkim after attending a meeting with the party's central leadership in Delhi on seat-sharing with SKM.

Addressing party workers at Rangpo upon his return to the state, Thapa said, "The alliance with SKM has ended."

"A new era of independent action against corruption and a focused commitment to Sikkim's development has begun... the dissolution of the alliance provides a great opportunity to serve the interests of the people of the state," he said.

Thapa said that he told the central leadership that the state unit was fully geared to contest all the 32 assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state on its own.

Reacting to the development, SKM leader Jacob Khaling Rai, who is also the political secretary to the CM, said, "We did not have a pre-poll alliance with the BJP in the previous election, but we had worked out a post-poll alliance in the interest of the nation and the state. This time too, that is not being ruled out."

He also congratulated the BJP for going ahead with its decision to contest the elections alone.

Sources said that the talks between the SKM and the BJP on seat-sharing broke down after Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang refused to go for a pre-poll alliance with the saffron party.

Tamang had visited the national capital recently to discuss seat-sharing with BJP leaders, which, however, did not materialise, they said.

Both the BJP and the SKM are likely to announce their candidate lists within the next few days.

Sources said that while both parties were earlier expected to contest the elections in an alliance, the SKM developed cold feet over the issue, fearing that opposition Sikkim Democratic Front and Citizen Action Party may fuel Sikkimese sub-nationalism over the Centre's alleged dilution of Article 371F of the Constitution that guarantees special status to the state and protects its old laws that existed prior to the state's merger with the Indian union in 1975.

The two parties had contested the 2019 polls separately, with the SKM winning 17 seats and forming the government. The BJP, on the other hand, drew a blank, polling less than two per cent votes.

The two parties stitched a post-poll alliance after the BJP's tally of MLAs suddenly swelled to 10 following defections from the SDF.

Two SDF MLAs also joined the SKM, taking its tally to 19.

The BJP subsequently contested two assembly by-polls, winning both to increase its tally to 12.

Expanding its footprint in Sikkim, the BJP’s candidate DT Lepcha also won the lone Rajya Sabha seat in the state.

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