Often derided for his strong arm tactics, Pawan Kumar Chamling's Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) has ruled Sikkim virtually uncontested and unquestioned for a much larger part of his 25 years in power. In 2014, SDF bagged 22 of the state's 32 total seats in the legislative Assembly. But the million-dollar question is will he again sit on that coveted chief minister's chair after 23 May?
Known for making sweeping statements without much care for humility, Chamling has even compared his rule to the golden period of Chandragupta Maurya, an Indian emperor who ruled large swathes of present day India around 2,300 years ago.
Starting off as a regional party with regional aspirations, SDF became a constituent of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in 2016. While its election prospects are hindered by anti-incumbency, Sikkim under the SDF’s guard has done well in the economy sphere as well as in owning and branding ‘organic farming’ in innovative ways. The state has the country’s third highest per capita income after Goa and Delhi.
In a bid to overcome the growing anti-incumbency, the SDF has fielded quite plenty of new faces for a fresh look even as the Opposition — led by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) — has harshly attacked it for failures on many fronts like seat reservation for the Nepali-speaking Limboo and Tamang communities of the state besides the usual barrage of charges ranging from corruption to nepotism.
But the SDF will derive some solace from the fact that the rising importance of footballer-turned politician Baichung Bhutia-led Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) may take the sting out of the SKM’s challenge by eating into the latter’s support base as also SKM's dalliances with the BJP which may not strike the right chord in a state that has historically-favoured regional interests.
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Updated Date: May 23, 2019 15:19:01 IST