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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Enough of regional parties: Stir in Sikkim, Darjeeling over BJP president J.P.Nadda’s remark

Regionalism is a major factor in politics in Sikkim and the Darjeeling hills given the serious and complex local issues which the majority believe can be taken up only by regional parties

Vivek Chhetri Darjeeling Published 13.04.24, 10:18 AM
JP Nadda.

JP Nadda. File picture

BJP president J.P.Nadda’s remark against regionalism and regional parties has touched a raw nerve in Sikkim and Darjeeling with even his party’s legislator voicing concern.

Regionalism is a major factor in politics in Sikkim and the Darjeeling hills given the serious and complex local issues which the majority believe can be taken up only by regional parties.

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Releasing the BJP's manifesto for Sikkim in Gangtok on Thursday, Nadda said as far as regional parties were concerned, “enough is enough”.

“I want to make a request. Enough is enough. You have to come to mainstream and mainstream is BJP and the leadership of Shri Narendra Modi. There has been enough of regional parties...," said Nadda.

Polling will be held in Sikkim on April 19 for the Assembly and the lone Lok Sabha seat. Since 1975 when Sikkim merged with India, only regional parties have governed the state.

In 2019, the BJP had supported the regional party Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) to form the government.

On Thursday, Nadda also said: “You need to concentrate on the mainstream party. Hence, you should bid goodbye to them and also bid goodbye to corruption. We will provide you with clean, people-oriented, full of progress, full of peace, full of infrastructure, full development and mainstreaming of Sikkim that is what I promise....”

The BJP president added that “gone are the days” of regional parties and hinted that local parties indulged in horsetrading, a charge that is often levied against the BJP.

In Sikkim, protection of its old laws under Article 371 (f) is a major issue. The article seeks to protect the distinct identity of Sikkim.

Protests against Nadda’s statement are pouring in not only from Sikkim but also from a BJP legislator in the hills.

B.P. Sharma (Bajgain), BJP MLA of Kurseong, who is also contesting as an Independent from the Darjeeling Lok Sabha seat, said: “To kill regionalism is to kill our culture, language. When Sikkim was merged, the issue of the security of Sikkimese was an important issue. To kill regionalism also means to kill our demand for separation from Bengal.”

Nadda’s statement has also been condemned in Sikkim.

D.B. Chauhan, former Sikkim BJP president who had recently joined the SKM, dared Nadda to speak on these lines in places like Bengal and Tamil Nadu.

“J.P. Nadda, national president of the BJP, spoke big. We want to tell him that he should similarly talk big in Bengal, Tamil Nadu, where you do not have the government,” said Chauhan who added that the emotions of Sikkim are attached to regional parties.

“They (Sikkim people) believe in regional parties and have liked the leadership of Prem Singh Golay. There is no space for national parties here,” said Chauhan who added that while he was in the BJP, people would tell him that while they supported him individually, they did not support the national party.

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