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Chamling snips sibling support

- SDF axes 14 panchayat members

Gangtok, Sept. 1: The ruling Sikkim Democratic Front has expelled 14 panchayat members from the party for allegedly supporting the chief minister’s brother, Rup Narayan Chamling, who is contesting as an Independent in an Assembly by-poll.

Rup Narayan is the younger brother of the chief minister and is contesting from Rangang-Yangang in South Sikkim. The by-election will be held on September 13.

“The expulsion of 14 panchayat members was announced by chief minister Pawan Chamling at an SDF meeting in Gangtok yesterday. He was not happy with the panchayats members supporting R.N Chamling,” said a senior SDF leader who didn’t want to be named.

Chamling had said at several public meetings that no one from his family would enter politics and he was apparently unhappy with the decision of his brother to contest the bypoll.

“I have a family relationship with my brother but not a political relationship. I appeal to the people of Rangang-Yangang not get misguided but to vote for the SDF candidate. My younger brother is going around saying that he has my blessings, which is completely wrong. He doesn’t enjoy my political patronage,” Chamling is quoted to have said at the SDF meet.

The chief minister also said the 14 panchayat members elected on SDF tickets stood disqualified with the dismissal from the party and fresh elections would be held after Dusehra. The expelled panchayat members are from different areas in Rangang-Yangang constituency.

Chamling told the meeting that no rival candidate would be inducted into the SDF even if he/she won from Rangang-Yangang. Kumari Thapa, 34, is the SDF candidate for the bypoll, while BJP has fielded Bikash Basnet who is backed by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha.

One of the expelled panchayat members said: “We are determined to support R.N. Chamling, who is honest and socially active. I am shocked to hear that we have been expelled from the party. Nevertheless, we will continue to campaign for R.N. Chamling.”

However, R.N. Chamling didn’t respond to calls.