Thursday, October 04, 2007

Sikkim Democratic Front ahead in rural poll numbers

Gangtok, Oct. 4: If the number of candidates for the panchayat polls are anything to go by, the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) seems to be heading for a clear victory.
According to the state election commission, there are 1,784 candidates in the fray for elections to 889 seats in 161 gram panchayats. Of this, the ruling front has the highest number of candidates in both the gram panchayat and zilla panchayat seats.
The filing of nominations closed on Monday for the polls that are scheduled on October 26. The scrutiny of forms took place today and the last date for the withdrawal of nominations is October 5.
The SDF has 1,135 candidates in the fray for the 889 gram panchayat seats across the state. For the zilla panchayats, excluding North Sikkim, there are 157 SDF candidates fighting for the 93 zilla panchayat seats.
SDF Bhavan on Indira Bypass here is already crowded with ticket seekers coming in with large delegations. With the number of SDF nominations far outnumbering the seats, it is clear that some of the candidates will have to withdraw to avoid a contest within the party.
Independent candidates are the biggest challenge to the SDF in the gram panchayat seats with 320 of them in the fray. The Sikkim unit of the Congress, the Sikkim Gorkha Prajatantrik Party and the CPM are the other three political parties fighting the polls.
The Congress has put up 55 candidates for the gram panchayats and another 16 for zilla panchayats in three districts.
The four opposition parties in the state — the Congress, BJP, CPM and the Sikkim Himali Rajya Parishad — today submitted joint memorandums to the state election commission and Sikkim police demanding preventative measures against the alleged undemocratic tactics adopted by the SDF.
According to the Opposition, SDF members stopped them and independent candidates from reaching the designated offices for filing their nomination in time by picketing at strategic points.
The ruling SDF has rubbished all charges and said that no such terror or pressure tactics had been resorted to by them.