GANGTOK: The BJP, which drew a blank in the Sikkim Assembly elections earlier this year, has tied up with the ruling SKM in the state for the October 21 bypolls to three Assembly seats. Addressing a joint press meet here on Saturday, BJP's Sikkim in-charge Nitin Navin said the two parties have decided to work together to speed up development in the border state.
The saffron party is set to contest the bypolls from Gangtok and Martam-Rumtek Assembly seats, reserved for indigenous Bhutia and Lepcha communities, respectively, while the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) will field its candidate from Poklok-Kamrang seat. Bypolls were necessitated after legislators who had won two Assembly seats vacated one.
The BJP, which has been trying to gain a foothold in the state, had received a major boost earlier this year when 10 Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) MLAs joined the party. "This is a new beginning of a long-term relationship. The BJP and SKM have worked out a seat-sharing formula for the upcoming bypolls to three Assembly seats," Navin stated.
Explaining the reasons for the tie-up, SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling Rai said Sikkim has matters pending, which only the Central government can resolve. "Among other demands, the state has long been seeking Assembly seat reservation for Limboo and Tamang communities and tribal status for 11 "left-out" communities," Rai said.
"We are confident that the two governments, one at the Centre and other in the state, will work together to fulfil the pending demands of people," Rai, who is a trusted aide of Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang aka Golay said.
Asked if Golay, who is currently not a member of the Assembly, will contest the bypoll from Poklok-Kamrang seat - vacated by his predecessor Pawan Kumar Chamling - Rai said the party's parliamentary board will take a decision on the matter shortly.