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Sikkim Assembly elections on April 11

The main fight is expected to be between the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front and the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha

By Rajeev Ravidas in Gangtok

  • Published 11.03.19, 1:09 AM
  • Updated 11.03.19, 1:09 AM
P.D. Rai, a senior leader of the Sikkim Democratic Front and Lok Sabha member.
P.D. Rai, a senior leader of the Sikkim Democratic Front and Lok Sabha member. The Telegraph file picture

The Election Commission of India on Sunday announced that the Assembly polls in Sikkim and the voting for the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state would take place simultaneously on April 11, the first phase of the seven-phase nationwide electoral exercise.

This is the fourth time in succession that the Sikkim Assembly elections are being held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections. The people of the Himalayan state, which merged with India in 1975, will be voting to elect its 10th Assembly. The term of the 32-member present Assembly expires on May 27.

According to the state election department, a total of 4,23,167 voters — 2,16,133 males, 2,07,032 females and two transgender — can exercise their franchise this time. The vast majority of the voters are in the age group of 18-45.

The notifications of the elections will be issued on March 18 and nominations can be filed from that day to March 25. The scrutiny of papers will take place on March 26 and the last date for the withdrawal of the nominations is March 28.

The counting will take place on May 23.

P.D. Rai, a senior leader of the Sikkim Democratic Front and Lok Sabha member, said his party hoped all sections of the society would cooperate with the Election Commission to hold free and fair polls.

The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha and the Hamro Sikkim Party have said they will publish election manifestoes and list of candidates in a few days. The main fight is expected to be between the ruling SDF and the SKM.

The HSP was launched by ex-footballer Bhaichung Bhutia.

SDF president and Sikkim chief minister Pawan Chamling had said in the past that he would contest from his home constituency of Namchi in South Sikkim. However, it is still uncertain whether or not his rival and SKM president P. S. Golay will be able to contest the election, given his conviction in a corruption case.

The SDF will fight the elections on its own, as in the past. The SKM, on the other hand, is likely to forge an alliance with the BJP. “We will let you know within the next couple of days,” said Khaling.

The HSP, too, is likely to tie up with some fringe local parties.

In the last Assembly elections, the SDF had won 22 seats and the SKM 10. However, seven SKM MLAs later defected to the SDF. The SKM had done particularly well in East Sikkim where it had won nine of 12 seats. However, it had fared poorly in the West and South districts losing all the 16 seats.

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