Regional Party Retained Power In Sikkim, Wins 31 of 32 Seats


GANGTOK: In Sikkim, the popular regional political party, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) returned to power for the second consecutive term by a landslide victory, winning 31 seats in the 32-member assembly. BJP could not win a single seat and the opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), which ruled the state for 25 years until 2019, could manage only one seat.

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Prem Singh Tamang, SKM President and Chief Minister of Sikkim

However, SKM president and Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang won two seats, and the party bagged 58.38 per cent of the votes polled. The SKM had won 17 seats in the 2019 assembly polls.

The man behind the landslide victory Prem Singh Tamang is the same politician who had the courage to rebel against the then Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling and subsequently float his party, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, in 2013.

Fifteen years after quitting the Sikkim Democratic Front in 2009, he decimated Chamling’s party, scripting history by winning 31 of 32 assembly seats in the Himalayan state in 2024. Only twice before, in 1989 and 2009, had political parties, the Sikkim Sangram Parishad and the SDF, respectively, registered such landslide victories.

Fifty-six-year-old Tamang, regarded as an able organiser, administrator and fiery politician, rode on a slew of development and welfare measures, besides his charisma, to massively increase his party’s seats and vote share.

After having walked out of prison, where he was lodged for one year after being convicted in a corruption case, in 2017, Tamang revamped his fledging party, which went on to unseat Chamling from power only two years later, winning 17 seats in 2019.

Although SDF had won 15 seats, two party MLAs had won two seats each and had to quit one seat each, effectively putting the party’s strength at 13 in the assembly.

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Chamling suffered mass desertions of his MLAs, as 10 legislators joined the BJP, while the remaining two switched sides to the SKM, leaving him as the lone representative of his party in the assembly.

Tamang, on the other hand, went on to further consolidate his power and expand his party base and support, focusing on welfare schemes targeted at women and weaker sections and implementing development work with generous funding from the Centre as he stitched an alliance with the BJP. The coalition, however, collapsed ahead of the 2024 assembly polls over the seat-sharing issue.

Born to Kalu Singh Tamang and Dhan Maya Tamang on February 5, 1968, he graduated from a college in Darjeeling in neighbouring West Bengal and became a teacher in a government school in 1990.

However, he quit his job only three years later and in 1994, co-founded the SDF, with which he remained associated for nearly 20 years, of which he was a minister for 15 years, before floating his party in 2013. The SKM won 10 seats in the 2014 assembly elections.

After having fallen out with Chamling, Tamang had ploughed a lonely furrow in Sikkim politics, inviting the wrath of his former mentor as he was booked in a corruption case in which he was convicted to one-year imprisonment following which he was disqualified from the state assembly as an MLA from Upper Burtuk seat.

After winning the 2019 polls, the bar on him to occupy a public post was removed by the central government, following which he took oath as the chief minister on May 27 that year and won a by-election five months later from Poklok-Kamrang constituency, ironically a seat vacated by Chamling.

Five years down the line, the fortunes of the two leaders have changed drastically, with Tamang winning from Rhenock and Soreng-Chakung constituencies by thumping margins, while Chamling met his political waterloo by losing both seats, Namcheybung and Poklok-Kamrang.

The drubbings may mark the end of Chamling’s four-decade-long public life during which he had served as a five-term chief minister to leave Tamang as the new satrap of Sikkim.

The SKM boss, however, has also expressed his wish before the electorate to not remain in public life after serving two terms as the chief minister and to hand over the reins of the party to the next line of leadership.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed Tamang and the SKM for the victory.

“Congratulations to SKM and CM @PSTamangGolay for their victory in the Sikkim Assembly Elections 2024. I look forward to working with the State Government to further the progress of Sikkim in the coming times,” Modi said in a post on X.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s post, Tamang thanked him.

“We are committed to continuing our efforts towards the development and prosperity of Sikkim. We look forward to collaborating with you to achieve our shared goals for the betterment of our state.

“Your unwavering support has been a driving force for us, and we look forward to your continued guidance and blessings,” Tamang said in an X.

Modi also thanked all who voted for the BJP in the Sikkim assembly elections. The saffron party contested 31 seats but failed to win any of them. The party bagged 5.18 per cent of the total votes polled.

Sikkim BJP president Dilli Ram Thapa, a sitting MLA, also lost to SKM nominee Kala Rai in the Upper Burtuk constituency by a margin of 2,968 votes.

“I also appreciate the efforts put in by our Karyakartas. Our Party will always be at the forefront of working towards Sikkim’s development and fulfilling people’s aspirations,” Modi said in a post.

After the landslide win, Tamang congratulated the party workers and the voters of Sikkim.

“It is because of the love and trust of the people which we have managed to secure in the past five years in government. Besides, party cadres worked very hard. Now we have the next five years to give our 100 per cent for the people of Sikkim,” he said at a gathering in Paljor Stadium in Gangtok.

Tamang won by over 7,000 votes in both Rhenock and Soreng-Chakung constituencies.

“I also want to thank the opposition as it is because of them that our party became stronger and more organised,” said the president of the SKM which had won 17 seats in 2019.

Like the BJP, the Congress also failed to open its account and secured a paltry vote share of 0.32 per cent which is even less than that of NOTA (0.99 per cent).

Tamang asked the party workers to maintain calm in the aftermath of the landslide victory.


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