SDF MLAs meet Ram Madhav amid merger talks

SDF MLAs meet Ram Madhav
Tue, Aug 6, 2019

Staff Reporter
Amid rife speculations of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) cosying up to the BJP following its debacle in the Sikkim Assembly polls, a delegation of 10 SDF legislators today met BJP national general secretary Ram Madhav in New Delhi.
The SDF delegation had 10 of the 13 party MLAs excluding party president Pawan Chamling and the two ‘rebel’ MLAs- G.T. Dhungel and Em Prasad Sharma, having stayed away from the party as ‘SDF-2’. Senior SDF leaders and former ministers D.T. Lepcha, Ugen T. Gyatso Bhutia and N.K. Subba had led the delegation.
Madhav, the BJP’s national general secretary and in-charge for the Northeast took to Twitter saying, “delighted to receive 9 legislators of the opposition SDF from Sikkim who came to extend support for BJP.” He further shared pictures of the meeting with the SDF delegation captioned: “Delegation of legislators of SDF called on Shri. Ram Madhavji to handover their support,” further triggering doubts on the meeting.  
Asked on the meeting with the BJP leader, SDF spokesperson Avinash Yakha told SIKKIM EXPRESS that the meeting was merely a courtesy call by the SDF legislators as a NDA ally. “It was just a courtesy call as we having been a constituent of the BJP led NDA had not met him after the election. We congratulated the BJP for forming the government at the Centre for the second term with majority,” said Yakha over phone from the national capital.
According to the SDF spokesperson, the SDF MLAs apprised Madhav on the pending political demands pursued by the party with a request to the Centre government to continue the special status and development of Sikkim as initiated by the SDF in its 25-year-long regime.
“We also raised the issue of tribal status of 11 left out communities of the State along with requested for Limboo Tamang Assembly seat reservation by expanding the Legislative Assembly to 40 seats as given reserved seats from the existing 32 seats will be a gross injustice to the 60 percent of majority community. We submitted that the 11 left out communities should be accorded ST status as was enjoyed before being part of the Indian union,” said Yakha.
On the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir and fears of similar move in Sikkim in relation to Article 371F, the SDF MLAs told Madhav that Sikkim had merged in the Indian union through a public referendum and should not be tampered with. “He told us that the BJP has no such plans for Sikkim because BJP does what it says. We had mentioned the Jammu and Kashmir issue in our manifesto. There is no need for the Sikkimese people to be worried.”
Asked whether the SDF was planning to join the saffron party, Yakha maintained that SDF has been getting positive feelers including the Sikkim BJP unit. “There is an invitation to join but our party has not taken any concrete decision on the matter.”

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi