"The assembly election may have advocated a change with the SKM coming into the opposition, but Chamling created a record by becoming India's longest serving chief minister at par with late communist patriarch Jyoti Basu for the record fifth time in a row."
By Shradha Chettri

Gangtok, May 18 - Terming itself a youth party which is just a year old, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) may not have been able to win the assembly election and form the government but it has given the Himalayan border state an opposition party which was missing for over a decade now.

Bagging 10 seats in the 32-member assembly, the SKM, which was formed in February 2013, has given the people a reason to rejoice as they think it will help keep the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in check.

We are a very new party and we have worked very hard. People wanted change and we have given it to them. In a democracy, the opposition always plays an important part, Ugen Nedup Bhutia, who won the election, told IANS.

Bhutia, 46, won from Kabi Lungchuk constituency in north Sikkim.

The SDF has had no opposition, so this will keep them in check. The SKM managing to pull the crowd is a big deal. We are happy that Sikkim has displayed a true example of democracy. The SDF will definitely be careful and cautious now, Sikkim government employee Avantika Shiori told IANS.

The SDF, which was formed in 1993 and is led by Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, has been ruling Sikkim since 1994, when it bagged 19 seats. In 2004, it bagged 31 seats and secured an absolute majority with 32 seats in 2009. This year, it managed only 22 seats.

People were tired of the SDF rule, the corruption they were engaged in. So the youth came forward and worked for this party because we wanted change, an SKM party worker who didn't wish to be identified told IANS.

The SKM, which was formed in the western city of Soreng, is led by Prem Singh Tamang - popularly known as P.S. Golay, who was a former minister in the SDF government.

The 45-year-old Golay and SKM created quite a wave in the Himalayan state and has promised the people a transparent government.

The party has 'table lamp' as its symbol and a saffron, red and green flag.

The SKM is a party totally funded by the youth who campaigned intensively for almost seven months. We went from door to door and party leaders talked to every family, the party worker said.

The SKM has also received support from former chief minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari, who governed the state from 1979 to 1994.

The new party has won seats mainly in the east, which comprises state capital Gangtok Arithang and Upper Tadong, one seat in north Sikkim and the reserved seat of Sangah.

You should see the SKM has won mostly in areas where the public is educated and the people know of the corruption the SDF government is engaged in. So they voted for change, the young party worker told IANS.

But people young and old are happy to have a little change in the state.

The SKM fought a good battle, 10 seats against a very old party is remarkable, former journalist Tshultrim Norbu Wangdi told IANS.

People in Sikkim are very happy. With an opposition in place, it will be good for the people of the country, added Deepesh Chettri, teacher at St. Xavier's School in Pakyong in east Sikkim.

The assembly election may have advocated a change with the SKM coming into the opposition, but Chamling created a record by becoming India's longest serving chief minister at par with late communist patriarch Jyoti Basu for the record fifth time in a row.

(Shradha Chettri can be contacted at [email protected])


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