Defections: BJP becomes main opposition in Sikkim

BJP made more gains in the northeast as 10 of 13 MLAs of the Sikkim Democratic Front joined the saffron party making it the main opposition in a state where it had failed to win a single seat in the recent polls.

After the defections that left SDF chief Pawan Kumar Chamling with just three MLAs in his fold, the ten lawmakers met BJP working president J P Nadda and joined the party in the presence of its general secretary Ram Madhav, who is in charge of the party’s affairs in the region.

Madhav told reporters that the SDF had a strength of 13 MLAs and its legislature party decided to merge with the BJP.

Two-third or more lawmakers of a party can change sides without violating the anti-defection law.

BJP will play the role of a constructive opposition in the state, Madhav said. Chamling-led SDF ruled the state for over 25 years before he lost power in the recent elections.

SDF won 15 seats while its rival Sikkim Krantikari Morcha won 17 in the 32-member assembly in the recent polls. Since two of the SDF MLAs had won from two seats, the party's actual strength in the House was reduced to 13. The 10 MLAs who joined BJP include former SDF ministers Dorjee Tshering Lepcha, Ugen Gyatso Bhutia and Narendra Kumar Subba. They had been camping in Delhi since past several weeks and had met Ram Madhav a week ago.

Lepcha said they were impressed with the “look east” policy of the Narendra Modi government. “Sikkim is a small State with three international borders. We want BJP to win in Sikkim. The youths from the state are with the BJP. We want the BJP leaders should take reformative steps in Sikkim too like in rest of the country,” Lepcha said. This is the first time that MLAs of a regional party in Sikkim joined a national party “en masse”, he said. “We want the lotus to bloom in Sikkim,” he said. BJP's immediate challenge in the state will be byelections to three seats.

Meanwhile in Gangtok, the SDF refused to comment on the developments.

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