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BJP, SKM Win Massive Mandates in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim Assembly Elections, Opposition Decimated

BJP, SKM Win Massive Mandates in Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim Assembly Elections, Opposition Decimated

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, June 2: The ruling parties in both Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim retained power with even bigger mandates than in 2019 almost totally demolishing the opposition in the two Himalayan states.

As the counting of votes was taken up on Sunday for the two Assembly elections, which had gone to the polls along with the Lok Sabha polling, the BJP emerged victorious in the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh with 46 seats and its NDA ally Conrad Sangma’s National People’s Party another five seats, while in Sikkim the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) swept the polls with 31 seats in the 32-member House leaving a single seat for the opposition Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) which once ruled over the state for over 30 years.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the BJP’s victory was considered to be a foregone conclusion considering that the party had begun with a headstart of 10 seats elected unopposed, including the incumbent chief minister Pema Khandu and the Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein.

Among the opposition, the Congress won one seat, the NCP three and the People’s Party of Arunachal two seats. Three seats were won by Independents. In the 2019 assembly election, the BJP had won both the Lok Sabha seats and 41 assembly constituencies. The Janata Dal (United) had won seven seats, the National People’s Party (NPP) five, Congress four and People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) one seat. Two independent candidates had also won.

In Sikkim, the incumbent Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang told the media, “I thank the people of Sikkim and our party workers. We worked for the people with all our heart. That’s why we have won.” SDF leader Pawan Chamling, who has been the longest-serving Chief Minister of the country, has lost from both seats he contested. In 2019, the SKM had ended the rule of the SDF in Sikkim by winning 17 seats against 15 of Pawan Chamling’s party. Going by the ‘first past the post’ system, the SDF was unseated despite polling more votes than the SKM.

The former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia tasted defeat in electoral politics yet another time. He lost to Rikshal Dorjee Bhutia of the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha by a margin of 4,346 votes in the Barfung seat. Mr Bhutia’s SDF, of which he is the vice-president, was reduced to just one seat in the 32-member Assembly.

The former footballer had fought elections twice from West Bengal as a Trinamool candidate – the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling and the 2016 assembly elections from Siliguri. He lost both.

Then he moved his electoral base to Sikkim and formed his own Hamro Sikkim Party in 2018, but merged it with the SDF last year. party. He fought the 2019 assembly elections from Gangtok and Tumen-Lingi, but was defeated in both his attempts. He also lost the 2019 bypoll from Gangtok.

Like Mr Bhutia, his party’s president, Pawan Chamling, the longest serving chief minister in the country having broken Mr Jyoti Basu’s record in West Bengal, was also defeated in both the constituencies he contested. Mr Chamling lost to Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) candidate Raju Basnet by 2,256 votes in the Namcheybung seat and to Bhoj Raj Rai of SKM in the Poklok Kamrang Assembly constituency by 3,063 votes.

A five-time chief minister, Mr Chamling’s SDF had won the Sikkim Assembly elections continuously in 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014 before losing to the SKM in 2019 when his party won 15 seats only to be decimated to a mere one seat in 2024. Interestingly, Tenzing Norbu Lamtha, the lone SDF candidate who won the Shyari seat, had switched over from SKM ahead of the Assembly polls after being denied a ticket.

SKM president and Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang won from two seats, and the party bagged 58.38 per cent of the votes polled. The SKM had won 17 seats in the 2019 assembly polls. Mr Tamang won by over 7,000 votes in both Rhenock and Soreng-Chakung constituencies.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi welcomed the BJP’s win in Arunachal. “Thank you Arunachal Pradesh! The people of this wonderful state have given an unequivocal mandate to politics of development. My gratitude to them for reposing their faith in @BJP4Arunachal yet again. Our Party will keep working with even greater vigour for the state’s growth,” he posted on X. He also praised BJP workers for their hard work.

Responding to the verdict, incumbent Chief Minister Pema Khandu said, “This is a mandate for 10 years of development with huge support from the centre. You all know Arunachal Pradesh is the land of rising sun. BJP’s victory here shows (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi ji will become PM for the third term.”

Mr Modi also hailed Mr Tamang and the SKM for the victory in Sikkim. “Congratulations to SKM and CM @PSTamangGolay for their victory in the Sikkim Assembly Elections 2024. I look forward to working with the State Government to further the progress of Sikkim in the coming times,” Mr Modi said in a post on X.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s post, Mr Tamang thanked him. “We are committed to continuing our efforts towards the development and prosperity of Sikkim. We look forward to collaborating with you to achieve our shared goals for the betterment of our State. Your unwavering support has been a driving force for us, and we look forward to your continued guidance and blessings,” Mr Tamang said in an X.

Mr Modi also thanked all who voted for the BJP in the Sikkim assembly elections. The saffron party contested in 31 seats but failed to win any of them. The party bagged 5.18% of the total votes polled. Sikkim BJP president Dilli Ram Thapa, a sitting MLA, also lost to SKM nominee Kala Rai in the Upper Burtuk constituency by a margin of 2,968 votes.

Like the BJP, the Congress also failed to open its account and secured a paltry vote share of 0.32% which is even less than that of NOTA (0.99%). While Sikkim had recorded a turnout of 79 per cent in these state polls, Arunachal had clocked 82.7 per cent voting. Counting of votes for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Sikkim and Arunachal’s two seats will be held on June 4.



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