India’s longest serving chief minister— of the tiny Himalayan state of Sikkim—is likely to suffer a huge setback. His former trusted-aide-turned-rival, Prem Singh Tamang alias P.S.Golay, seems set to unseat him from power this time.
Elections to the 32-member Sikkim state Assembly were held along with the Lok Sabha polls last month. Golay’s Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) has established a firm lead in 10 seats while Chamling’s Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) is winning in just two seats. SDF is a partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).
Golay was a close aide of Chamling and held important portfolios like housing and industries in Chamling’s cabinet for three terms. But the two fell out in December 2009, and Golay formed the SKM in February 2014.
After five terms (25 years) in power, the SDF faces acute anti-incumbency this time. Chamling first became the Chief Minister in December 1994 after the SDF (formed in 1993) won 19 seats. In 1999, the SDF won 24 seats, while in 2004, it won 31 seats. The SDF made a clean sweep of all 32 Assembly seats in 2009, but its tally fell to 22 in 2014, when the newly-formed SKM won 10 seats.