Sikkim is voting simultaneously for 32 assembly seats and a lone parliamentary seat as the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha election gets underway in the country today.
Among the key issues that will determine the outcome of polls this year in the Himalayan state is the influx of refugees. All opposition parties across the hilly state have slammed the Sikkim Democratic Front government led by Pawan Kumar Chamling in Sikkim.
Chamling, who is the longest-serving chief minister in the country, has faced flak from opposition parties including the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), who have questioned the abnormal rise in the number of voters from outside the state.
Opposition parties have also blamed SDF and Chamling for allegedly spreading corruption in the state.
Since 1996, Sikkim’s lone Lok Sabha seat has been bagged by the ruling SDF. (The tiny state has always preferred regional parties like SDF and SKM over national parties like Congress and BJP.)
This year, SDF has fielded DB Katwal instead of sitting MP Prem Das Rai, who is a two-time MP from the state. The SKM has fielded Indrahand Subba to fight against Katwal.
Another party that will be contesting for Sikkim’s lone Lok Sabha seat is former India football legend Bhaichung Bhutia’s Hamro Sikkim Party.
This is the fourth time in a row when the state will be witnessing simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
A total of just over four lakh voters are expected to cast their votes in the state for the Lok Sabha election.