In a surprising turn of events on the final day of filing nominations for the lone Rajya Sabha MP seat from Sikkim, the Citizen Action Party (CAP) Sikkim raised serious concerns about the candidacy of Dorjee Tshering Lepcha. The sitting legislator from the Gnathang Machong constituency, representing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been supported by the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) party.
CAP Sikkim’s working president, Narendra Adhikari, expressed strong reservations during a press conference, accusing Lepcha of being a party hopper and questioning the selection process that led to his nomination as an MP candidate for Rajya Sabha. Adhikari went on to claim that Lepcha, if elected, “will not speak a word in Rajya Sabha on behalf of Sikkim.”
The political landscape in Sikkim takes a contentious turn as the ruling SKM party, with 19 MLAs, supported Lepcha’s candidacy, despite not fielding a candidate of their own. CAP Sikkim condemned this decision, emphasizing that neither the SKM party nor the 25-year ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) party managed to nominate a single MP candidate. They accused the parties of compromising the democratic process by supporting a candidate from another party.
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Highlighting the discrepancy in voter percentages from the 2019 general elections, CAP Sikkim questioned the legitimacy of BJP’s claim to the seat. While SDF secured 48 percent and SKM 47.10 percent of the votes, BJP received only 1.6 percent. The sudden support from all 32 MLAs of the State for a candidate with such a marginal vote share raised suspicions among CAP members, leading them to declare that “they have sold the seat of Rajya Sabha, our MLAs are sold.”
In a contrasting stance, CAP Sikkim expressed support for the candidature of Tseten Tashi Bhutia, representing the BJP and the Bhutia Lepcha community of Sikkim. Describing Bhutia as a party cadre with a track record of speaking for the issues of Sikkim, CAP emphasized his capability and representation of the people.
The controversy surrounding the nomination process for the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Sikkim has not only exposed the political fault lines but has also raised pertinent questions about party loyalty, democratic values, and the selection criteria for representing the diverse voices of the region. As the election unfolds, Sikkim awaits the outcome that will shape its representation in the upper house of the Parliament.