Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Sikkim: Ruling SDF gains an advantage with Bhandari`s conviction

Gangtok, June 19: In the ongoing battle of political one-upmanship between the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF)on the one hand and the opposition Congress on the other, it is advantage SDF for now. Something significant happened in Sikkim's relatively brief democratic history when a former chief minister was convicted for the first time in a corruption case by a designated CBI court here last month. After a prolonged trial that lasted nearly 13 years former Chief Minister Nar Bahadur Bhandari was convicted in connection with a disproportionate assets case dating back to his chief ministership days and sentenced to one month in prison and fined Rs 5000 by the special CBI Judge S W Lepcha. Though granted bail immediately after the verdict was delivered the conviction of a political heavyweight like Bhandari who ruled the state for 14 years itself gives the ruling SDF an edge over the opposition. However, contrary to expectations, the ruling party hasn't come forward to cash in upon the conviction of a strong political adversary like Bhandari who continues to be a formidable force in the state.