The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha has said it favours an alliance with the BJP for the elections to the 32-member Sikkim Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state, but will take another few days before the deal is officially sealed.
Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, SKM spokesman Jacob Khaling said the central executive committee of the party was of the unanimous view that it should go ahead with the alliance with the BJP provided both the parties agreed on a common minimum programme.
“The party’s CEC, which met at the residence of president P.S. Golay in Soreng yesterday (Monday), cleared the road for an alliance with the BJP. We have no problem in forging an alliance with the BJP,” he said.
Khaling, however, iterated that the party had put forward eight issues that would have to be incorporated in the common minimum programme. They include no extension of the Citizenship Amendment Bill to Sikkim, restoration of Nepali seats in the Assembly, reservation of seats for the Limbu and Tamang communities in the House, granting of Scheduled Tribe status to 11 Nepali-speaking communities, income tax exemption for all Sikkimese, protection of Article 371F of the Constitution and old laws of the state, free functioning of the CBI in the state and upholding of secularism.
“We sent the list of issues that we want incorporated in the common minimum programme to the BJP central leadership yesterday itself. We hope to reach a formal agreement in the next few days,” said Khaling.
The tie-up between the two parties appears to be a foregone conclusion now. In fact, the BJP had on Friday unilaterally announced that an agreement on the alliance had been reached even though the SKM later tempered that by stating that it was not quite a done deal, but a work in progress.
Ram Madhav, the BJP general secretary, had categorically stated: “We decided that we both parties should fight the forthcoming parliament and Assembly elections together in Sikkim. Remaining details like seat sharing will be worked out in the next couple of days.”
Khaling said it was the BJP which had sought out the SKM for an alliance. “We decided to go in for an alliance with the BJP for the sake of the people of Sikkim. We will be able to work better for Sikkim and its people with the support of a strong party like the BJP at the Centre,” he said.
The SKM spokesman sought to allay fears that the tie-up with the BJP would dilute secularism in the state. “Sikkim is a secular state and will remain so. The minority communities should not be swayed by rumours. Everyone will be allowed to follow their religion without fear. All religions will be given equal respect,” he said.
The Himalayan state has a sizable minority population, including 27.39 per cent Buddhists and 9.91 per cent Christians, besides others. The vast majority of the about 6.5 lakh population are Hindus, though.