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28 Apr 2018

Poser on Bhutia party

RAJEEV RAVIDAS, TT, Apr 28, 2018, Gangtok: Both the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front and the opposition Sikkim Krantikari Party have in general welcomed the decision of Bhaichung Bhutia to form his own party, but appeared sceptical about how much of an impact it will have on the state where the Assembly elections are due next year.

K. T. Gyaltsen, the SDF spokesperson, said every individual or a group had a right to form a party in a democracy, and to that extent, his party welcomed the announcement of the Hamro Sikkim by Bhaichung.

"My question though is what message does he have for the people of Sikkim other than to make baseless allegations against our party and government, and besmirch the name of our chief minister? What are the party's principles and ideology, its aims and objectives? Who is going to lead the party? All these ought to have been announced, but they were not," he said.

Gyaltsen said Bhaichung's party appeared to be like many other parties which mushroom during elections and disappear.

"It is also interesting that he held a press conference in Delhi to announce his party," he said without elaborating.

Party supporters, however, have ridiculed Bhaichung in the social media for announcing the name in Delhi, and not in Sikkim.

Bhaichung had said on Thursday that he was only announcing the name of the party, and its formal launch would take place in the state in two or three weeks.

Jacob Khaling, the spokesman of the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), said the formation of the new party would be of help to his party insofar as exposing the allegedly corrupt regime of the SDF, which has been in power in the state since 1994.

"We welcome the formation of the new party. Since ours is the main opposition party, the new party will only pave the path for us to reap and sow," he said.

Asked if the SKM will tie-up with the the Hamro Sikkim, given that both the parties' main enemy is the ruling SDF, Chamling has said he personally feels all those who are genuinely opposed to the regime of chief minister Pawan Chamling should leave their doors open to each other, however, the party position will be decided after a thorough discussion in the leadership group.

Analysts, too, said as things stand today, a divided opposition would only work to the advantage of the SDF.

"The SDF is a firmly entrenched party having ruled Sikkim for 24 years now. Many in the past have tried, but failed to dislodge Pawan Chamling. This time, too, the task appears difficult, but there is still a year to go for the next election, and Sikkim being a small state with only 32 Assembly constituencies, there is still time for the opposition to get their acts together. That said, as things stand today, the first thing for the opposition, including Bhaichung's new party, to do would be to come on a common platform; divided, they may not pose much of a challenge," said an analyst. 

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