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SKM banking on welfare measures to win elections for second consecutive term in Sikkim

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Chief Minister and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) Prem Singh Tamang (File image)

Chief Minister and Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) Prem Singh Tamang (File image)

Gangtok: The Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) led by Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang is banking on the welfare measures taken by its government in the last five years to win Assembly elections for the second consecutive term in the Himalayan state.

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Elections to the 32-member Sikkim Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat in the state will be held on April 19.

The SKM is banking on welfare measures like free LPG cylinder to all households every quarter, Rs 40,000 annual cash transfer to the women head of family under 'Aamaa Yojana', extra increment to indigenous people in state government service for raising an additional child, an assistant to take care of infants for one year and regularisation of service of 27,000 temporary government employees among others.

"We have fulfilled all the promises we had made in 2019," Tamang said at a rally and urged the people of Sikkim to vote his party to power for a second term to make the Himalayan state a developed and prosperous one.

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The SKM which was formed in 2013 had won 10 seats in the 32-member Assembly in the 2014 elections. In the 2019 Assembly elections, it won 17 seats and wrested power from the Sikkim Democratic Front which ruled the state for 25 years.

SKM supremo Tamang is contesting from two assembly seats - Rhenock and Soreng-Chakung. His wife Krishna Kimari Rai is contesting from the Namchi-Singhithang assembly seat.

The SKM is fighting the assembly elections alone as the BJP decided to break the alliance with it.

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The BJP is contesting the elections in all the 32 seats independently.

The opposition SDF and the newly-formed Citizen Action Party (CAP) have been critical of the Tamang government for "failing" to provide reservation in assembly seats to the tribal Limboo and Tamang communities despite its good equation with the central government.

"With the chief minister himself being a Tamang, he should have made serious efforts to convince the central government to legislate on giving reserved assembly seats to the two tribal communities of Sikkim," an SDF leader said.

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The opposition parties are also angry with the SKM for "failing" to address the issue of the tribal status of 12 left-out communities of Sikkim despite making a promise in its election manifesto in 2019.

The opposition had also criticised the SKM for remaining a mute spectator to the dilution of article 371(F) of the constitution which protects old laws of Sikkim and provides special status to the Himalayan state after its merger with India in 1974.

The expansion of the definition of the Sikkimese people by a Supreme Court order to include descendants of old settlers along with indigenous communities for entitlement to avail income tax exemption had created a storm in Sikkim with all opposition parties protesting the decision and demanding a rollback.

However, the Sikkim Chief Minister weathered the storm by getting the order modified through an application moved by the central government in the apex court.

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