Bhaichung Bhutia, India’s former football team captain and leader of the main opposition party in Sikkim, Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF), has accused Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang and his party Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) of bringing in fake voters from outside the state during the 2019 elections.
Bhutia, newly appointed as the vice-president of Sikkim Democratic Front party, claimed that he unknowingly aided “such fake voters for stay in Sikkim”.
Addressing the media on Wednesday, the former footballer-turned-politician, said, “In 2019, when we (Hamro Sikkim Party) were supporting SKM, they brought voters from outside the state. The very first day when Golay (Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang) got out of jail, the gathering had many such fake voters”.
They are hiring voters from outside Sikkim this time as well, he said, alleging that 28,000 voters have increased. “Golay would be the ‘Chief Minister of Greater Sikkim’ (inclusive of Darjeeling hills),” he added.
Bhaichung Bhutia promised stricter embargo on fake voters with the SDF, saying they will not include voters without Residential Certificates or Certificate of Identification.
“There is a lot of influx in Sikkim from pharmaceutical and other companies. We will ensure proper work permit,” he said.
The fake voters, he said, are affecting the general seat voters, while the Bhutia and Lepcha communities are protected by tribal laws and certificates.
“Even the One Nation One Ration Card in Sikkim affects us. When they get ration, they start bringing families. Only SDF can stop this through legislation in the Assembly,” he said.
He also took another swipe at the Chief Minister, saying while he making “tall claims” of winning all 32 assembly seats for SKM, “there is no guarantee whether he will be allowed to contest or not in 2024”.
“His legitimacy as Chief Minister hangs on the Supreme Court case against him which is pending,” Mr Bhutia said.
Whether the Chief Minister gains legitimacy or not depends on the BJP, he said.
The SKM will have to “sacrifice seats for BJP for him to contest in 2024, else, the BJP will disqualify Golay as MLA,” said Mr Bhutia.