New Delhi: In a major blow to former Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Changing, 10 of his Sikkim Democratic Front's (SDF) 13 MLAs on Tuesday merged with the Bharatiya Janata Party here at party's headquarters.
The 10-MLAs headed by Dorjee Tshering Lepcha met senior leaders and joined the party in presence of BJP working president Jagat Prakash Nadda and general secretary Ram Madhav.
The SDF MLAs, who joined the BJP, are Dorjee Tshering Lepcha, Ugyen Tshering Gyatso, Narendra Kumar Subba, Dilli Ram Thapa, Karma Sonam Lepcha, Krishna Bahadur Rai, Tashi Thendup Bhutia, Farwanti Tamang, Pintso Namgyal Lepcha and Raj Kumari Thapa.
Now, the BJP, without winning a single seat in the Assembly polls, has become the main opposition party in Sikkim.
Announcing the merger of the SDF MLAs into BJP, Madhav said since the number of SDF MLAs joining BJP is two-third of its total strength, his party has now become the main opposition party in the state Assembly."We will play a role of a constructive opposition," he said welcoming them in the party fold.
Lepcha said it was for the first time in the history of Sikkim that a block has joined a national party. "It was in the interest of the state as any of the regional party which rules the state relies mostly on the national parties," he said.
Vowing to strengthen the BJP organisation in the state, he said the youth of Sikkim are inclined towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to his "look east policy"."We want the BJP to bloom in Sikkim and would work hard at grass-root level. Young voters are with BJP," he said, hailing the Center's decision to abrogate Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
The SDF had won 15 of the 32 Assembly seats in the recently concluded Assembly polls while Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) won 17 Assembly seats.
The SKM had dethroned Chamling who created history on April 29, 2018, by becoming the longest-serving Chief Minister in the country when he surpassed the record set by the late Jyoti Basu.Basu was Chief Minister of West Bengal for 23 years from June 1977 to November 2000 before he handed over charge to Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
In power since December 12, 1994, 67-year-old Chamling led his party, the Sikkim Democratic Front, to a two-thirds majority in 2014. Chamling started his political career at the age of 32 and had formed the Sikkim Democratic Front on March 1993.