Political heat is still on the rise in Sikkim as the state awaits to go for the by-elections within November this year. The election fervour hasn’t yet subsided and the people seem to be curiously excited for the by-polls.
There’s an air of satisfaction among the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) supporters as the winds of change blew in their favour this time making the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) bid adieu to its 25 years of governance.
While the winning margins of the SKM were slim in most of the constituencies and interestingly, the total vote share percentage remained higher for the SDF; however, at the end of the day, it was the morcha’s tri-colour that fluttered high.
Though both the parties run on the same ideology of ‘democratic socialism’, it was this time the junta chose a new face to carry forward the ideology.
The month of May has been historic for Sikkim. It was on May 16, 1975, that the kingdom of Sikkim became the 22nd state of India merging with the world’s largest democracy.
Recently, on May 23, 2019, Sikkim added another chapter to his history by over throwing the 25 years of the SDF government, making the SKM a new choice and voice of change.
Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) led morcha successfully secured 17 assembly seats against the Pawan Chamling led front which won 15 seats. The state had voted a month earlier on April 11. The nail biting vote counting kept everyone on their tips and toes till late night.
Also in many of its firsts, Sikkim got a chief minister in PS Golay who without contesting any of the assembly seats ‘fortunately’ held the chair.
It may be recalled that SKM had snatched majority of the seats in west from its opponent, SDF, by winning six of the eight constituencies there. The morcha also registered its mark in south district where it took two of the eight seats.
The results in the east and north districts added setback to the SDF with 6/12 and 2/3 respectively. The unique Sangha seat victory by SKM delivered a simple majority to the morcha.
Interestingly, the vote share percentage of the SDF party stood 47.63% of while SKM as secured 47.03% of total vote cast.
Meanwhile, the five times chief minister, Pawan Chamling, who has added to one of the many firsts in the history of Sikkim by becoming the longest serving chief minister of the nation (breaking the former chief minister of West Bengal, late Jyoti Basu’s record) won both of the seats he had contested from i.e. Poklok Kamrang and Namchi Singithang constituencies.
People again saw a first when two constituencies were given to one sitting MLA to contest, both by the SDF and the SKM.
SDF found that candidate in the sitting MLA, DT Lepcha, who successfully secured both of the seats, Gnathang Machong and Martam Rumtek. Similarly, SKM’s sitting MLA, Kunga Nima Lepcha, who contested from Gangtok and Shyari, won both the constituencies.All these constituencies fall under east Sikkim.
The state will now be adding another date in her historic calendar when the people will go for the by-polls within the next 6 months for three constituencies. The by-polls results will itself be a historic one as it will finally decide who walks away with the bigger piece of the cake.
Apart from the SDF and SKM, there were other political parties in the fray, however, it was these two parties that grasped the political scenario and kept people busy.
While SDF stood in the picture being the longest ruling party, the SKM earned its place in the picture by standing out as a powerful opposition. It seemed like the political parties like the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian National Congress (INC), Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP), Sikkim Republican Party (SRP), Sikkim Rajya Manch Party, Sikkim United Front and all the opposition alliances, despite being in the picture couldn’t highlight themselves. Instead, independent candidate like Ashish Rai who contested from Arithang constituency in east Sikkim, could make a mark by giving a tough competition to the SKM’s winning candidate, Arun Upreti. Rai who stood second in the vote count now doesn’t need to lose his security deposit.
It may me noted that Rai, a former SDF cadre stood as an independent after the SDF declared its party ticket to Shyam Pradhan to contest from Arithang constituency. Pradhan, a former SKM candidate had joined the SDF after his win in the earlier election. With a rousing support from the public that echoed in the heart of the capital, Rai took on the election. This was also for the first time that Sikkim witnessed that an independent candidate garnered such support and demand of the people. Though the mass gathering shouted slogans in Gangtok demanding Rai to become their voice, it resonated throughout the state gaining him much popularity. However, his popularity couldn’t withstand the SKM strong hold in the constituency.
Though not as harsh as the rest of the nation, Sikkim too recorded post poll violence, most of which has been reported from south district, particularly, Namchi which is considered to be the hub of SDF supporters. Properties were vandalised belonging to SDF supporters and incidents of brawls were reported. The violence which broke out as soon as the election results were announced, also didn’t spare the officers in election duty as their vehicles were damaged, it is informed.
Sikkim this time sent a new MP to the its lone Lok Sabha seat. With Indra Hang Subba from SKM sweeping the poll, the state found a fresh face and a youthful mind who could represent the Sikkimese population. Now high hopes remain upon this 30 year old lad from west Sikkim as the state remains positive that he will be her voice in the mainstream.
Indra Hang, who was a former member of the Bhaichung Bhutia led HSP, joined the SKM just before the elections. He won the parliamentary seat with a vote difference of 12,433 votes by securing a total of 1,66,922 votes (47.46%) against Dek Bahadur Katuwal of SDF who secured 1,54,489 total votes (43.92%).
Laten Sherpa, who rose as a popular face in the state through his attention grabbing videos related to addressing basic issues of the state, stood third with a total of 16,572 votes (4.71%) was the MP candidate of the BJP.
INC’s Bharat Basnett followed with 3,990 votes (1.13%). NOTA option stood fifth with 2,279 votes (0.65%). Independent candidate Passang Gyali Sherpa secured 2,003 votes (0.57%) while HSP’s Biraj Adhikari secured 1,998 votes (0.57%). Dhiraj Kumar Rai of Sikkim Republican Party got 1,503 votes (0.43%), Sikkim United Forum’s MP candidate Narendra Adhikari secured a total of 614 votes (0.17%).
All together there were a total of 11 candidates for the parliamentary constituency. The total votes cast for parliamentary constituency in Sikkim was 3,51,746 which includes 11,866 Postal Ballots and 3,39,080 EVM votes.
The Election Commission of India’s data reveals a growth in BJP’s footprint in Sikkim. The party did not contest all the assembly segments this time, but in most of the constituencies where it contested, its candidates stood third.
INC’s performance remains poor in Sikkim with only 1.13% of the Parliamentary election votes in Sikkim. NOTA polled 0.86% of the Assembly election votes and 0.65% of the Parliamentary election votes in General Election 2019 as per the data provided by the ECI.
Golay was sworn in as the 6th chief minister of Sikkim publicly at the Paljor Stadium. The ceremony yet again stood as a first of its kind as the earlier swearing in were conducted at Raj Bhawan amidst a handful of official gathering. Asserting that it is the people who delivered victory to SKM, Golay said that the party decided to hold the ceremony in open.
The event remained boycotted by the SDF legislators with a protest against the disregard of Supreme Court rulings and all norms of democracy being shown by the SKM in going ahead with their party president as the chief minister.
It may be mentioned that Golay has served in the state prison for a year after being convicted over corruption charges.
Few days earlier to the swearing in, the outgoing Chief Minister, Pawan Chamling left Mintokgang, the official residence of the Chief Minister of Sikkim on May 26 where he was offered guard of honor by the Sikkim Police. The moment saw the huge crowd gathered for the farewell diving into sea of emotions with outbursts of tears. However, Chamling seemed to maintain his calm sending words of encouragement and assurance to the teary eyed people.
“I respect the mandate of the people and wholeheartedly accept the election results. People have given the victory to SKM and handed over the government to them. I congratulate the leader of SKM and his MLAs on forming the government. I also congratulate the people of Sikkim for electing their government as per democratic norms,” he said while speaking to media-persons outside Mintokgang before leaving for his home at Ghurpisey, Namchi. Enroute to Namchi, he was accorded receptions at various places by his supporters most of whom could be seen crying.
SDF party spokesperson, Bhim Dahal said that the people of Sikkim have voted SDF in becoming a strong opposition with 15 seats in the assembly.
“We have lost the election but we have not lost the faith of people of Sikkim. SKM has got very simple majority and still there are three constituencies to go for by-election; so we still our hopes that the game might change”, expressed one of the SDF supporters with a hope.
“I feel different as I have seen only Mr. Chamling as our chief minister. It feels unusual to call Mr. Golay as our chief minister, but it’s ok as change is inevitable,” shared a college student who throughout his life has only seen the SDF regime in the state.
It may be mentioned here that Pawan Chamling led SDF rose to power in 1994 after defeating (late) Nar Bahadur Bhandari led Sikkim Sangram Parishad (SSP). There was no looking back for Chamling until May 27, 2019.
The first assembly session of the state assembly was held on June 3rd, 2019. Soon after it started, a visitor from the visitors gallery heckled the former chief minister calling him names. The reaction came after Chamling questioned Golay’s chief ministership. The heckling led Chamling and his band of legislatures walk out of the assembly at that moment and later they declared that they would be boycotting all the sessions until Golay is the chief minister.
The event sent across waves of reactions and opinions from the public. Some glorifying the act while some terming it as unfortunate incident that questioned the sanctity of the institution.
With some slew of changes by the SKM termed ‘much needed’ as per them, in its current stint of governance, the party remains confident that its government shall not stay for brief and instead long run the state. While the SDF on the other hand stays positive of bouncing to power back after the by-polls.
Sikkim Assembly (Vidhan Sabha) Election Results Summary
The tables below represent the assembly election results for the state of Sikkim untill now starting from the most recent year 2019.
- Election Department, Government of Sikkim.
- IPR, Government of Sikkim
- News Papers