With less than a year left for the state assembly elections, major political parties of the Himalayan state Sikkim now seems to be in an active election mode campaigning for the upcoming 2024 assembly polls. The state assembly of Sikkim has mostly been dominated by regional political parties since its inception as the 22nd state of the Indian Union in 1975, however, one can always argue on how successful national political parties has been or will be in gaining long term political ground in the state.
But the political landscape of the state seems quite different this time with the significant presence of, “Largest Political Party in the World” as claimed by some, the Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP, in the state assembly of Sikkim with the party in center led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Jagat Prakash Nadda as the party chief. Out of 32 seats in the state legislative assembly, at present BJP has 12 seats which accounts for 37.5% of the house making it the second largest political party in the state just behind the ruling front Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) with 19 assembly seats and Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) with just one. While BJP and SKM had announced post poll alliance in the government since 2019 polls but now it is unclear as many BJP leaders in the past has claimed it to be “an undignified alliance”.
Frequent visits of Union Cabinet Ministers, Ministers of State and party leaders in the state seems to boost the confidence of the state leadership along with its party cadres to the extent that the party has been witnessing growing number of local leaders and public joining the party with state leadership organizing numerous party events across the state.
“Our first cabinet meeting will regularize MR, Adhoc and Work Charge employees working for state government with more than three years of service” said Dilip Jaiswal, BJP state in-charge, at a party office opening in Namchi recently in an attempt to woo the voters while confident of forming the government in 2024. He too has been visiting the state frequently never missing the chance to launch scathing verbal attack on the ruling front SKM and Incumbent CM PS Tamang.
In another significant move to strengthen party’s campaign for the polls, BJP National President JP Nadda is scheduled to visit Sikkim on June 18 where he will be addressing party cadres and leadership at an event at Namchi the same day. “Nadda Ji’s visit should be a turning point for Sikkim” said Tsheten Tashi, a prominent leader of Bhutia / Lepcha and a member of BJP at Namchi recently. “I have submitted a six point confidential letter to Nadda Ji on what we want to hear from him in his (June 18) address” said Tsheten Tashi, “If Nadda Ji speaks the contents of the letter in his address BJP will form the government in the state from the very same day” he added.
BJP state unit president and MLA, DR Thapa on the other hand has been seen grappling to keep his party intact in the state with most of his MLA’s not being present in party’s functions and events along with the departure of many old party executives. “I request the party’s state in-charge to take disciplinary actions against absent MLA’s” Tsheten Tashi had said recently in a party’s function at Namchi. Many BJP MLA’s has also been seen cozying up with the ruling SKM while giving opposing statements in the assembly sittings in contrast to the statements and arguments of the state unit president. “This shows the presence of democracy in our party where the leadership can be questioned and everyone can share their opinions unlike others” said DR Thapa showing clear signs of irritation to the question asked recently in a press conference on why his own MLA’s present contradicting statements as opposed to him in the assembly.
With just handful of months left for the assembly polls, BJP it seems clearly has many interests at stake, keeping hold in its incumbent assembly seats being its priority number one. Sikkimese voters on the other hand has largely been unkind to National Political Parties in the past and do not easily vote in favor of the face value of national leaders. Will BJP emerge victorious in 2024 as against ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), major opposition party in the state Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), growing footprint of Citizen Action Party (CAP) and many other regional political parties like HSP and SRP is the question BJP clearly wants answer in its favor.