Cong, BJP, CPM in poll alliance in Sikkim

via Sanat K Chakraborty | Shillong - Daily Pioneer published on February 16, 2009





Smarting
under overwhelming political weight of Pawan Kumar Chamling led-Sikkim
Democratic Front Government, both the Congress and BJP threw away their
respective ideological inhibitions and forged a united front to end,
what they termed, “15 years of tyranny” in the forthcoming Assembly
election.

Chamling, who took the reins of the State in 1994,
retains SDF’s overwhelming supremacy in the 32-member Assembly with 31
seats, and is now seeking an encore for the fourth term, pushing the
Opposition parties in total disarray.

In the last three Assembly
elections, the Congress (in 2004, the Congress got just one seat) BJP
and CPI(M) drew a blank. The next Assembly election is due in May.

In an extraordinary political response on Sunday, the top leaders of five political parties — Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee

(SPCC),
BJP, CPI(M), Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad Party (SHRPP) and Sikkim
Gorkha Prajatantrik Party (SGPP) – forgot their traditional political
hostilities to put up a pre-poll alliance — United Democratic Front
(UDF) — to dislodge the Chamling Government.

The meeting was
attended by SPCC chief and former Chief Minister Narbahadur Bhandari,
BJP State unit president Hare Ram Pradhan, SHRPP president AD Subba,
SGPP leader NB Khatiwada and CPI(M) State committee member Anjan
Upadhyaya.

“At this juncture, nothing is more important than to
overthrow the dictatorial rule of Pawan Chamling and restore
democracy,” Upadhyaya told The Pioneer over phone from Gangtok,
clarifying how could the UDF partners with disparate political
affiliations overcome their differences.

“There is an undeclared
emergency in the State, where all the democratic rights of people have
been taken away,” he claimed. In the past several years, he said the
SDF had systematically usurped all the democratic rights of people,
especially the freedom of speech and association.

“There is no
freedom of speech in the State, which is the fundamental right of every
citizen, and whoever raises any voice against the ruling Government is
dealt with a heavy hand,” the CPI(M) leader said.

Under these
circumstances, political parties, too, which have differences with the
ruling front, face all kinds of political harassments while carrying
out their democratic activities, such as holding public meetings, he
said.

Upadhyaya, who edits a newspaper, said last July the SDF
followers had ransacked his office and burnt down his press, as he was
critical of the ruling Government.

Asserting that “it is
now-or-never situation,” he said. Political parties, irrespective of
ideology, had to come together to fight for the democratic rights of
the people. “That’s the rationale for UDF”, he felt.

In the
forthcoming election, “There will be a one-to-one contest between the
UDF and SDF,” and for that the UDF leaders would soon sit to discuss
strategies and seat arrangements so that the constituent partners do
not cut one another’s vote share.

Senior Congress leader and former Minister KN Upreti has been appointed as the chief coordinator.

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