Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (SPCC) presidential elections postponed

GANGTOK, September 21: In a major blow to incumbent Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee (SPCC) president Nar Bahadur Bhandari, the All India Congress Committee has postponed the election process of the State unit till further announcement.
Bhandari was all set to become the SPCC president for the third consecutive term as he was the lone candidate in the fray after the nomination process ended on September 13. His rival, KN Upreti had backed out demanding that the new SPCC president should be nominated by the AICC.
Upreti, who is also the senior vice president in the party, had contended that the elections for the SPCC president had created a major division in the party as two camps emerged-one in his favour and other pitching for Bhandari.
The SPCC vice-president and his supporters had asserted that they would not be accepting Bhandari as their party president through the ‘divisionary’ election process. However, they were ready to accept him as their party president if he is nominated by the AICC.
Upreti went to New Delhi and approached the party high command on September 14 and as it appears now, his perseverance has paid off with the SPCC presidential elections postponed.
A statement from Congress returning officer Zubair Khan as forwarded by SPCC functionary Avinash Yakha states: “Due to some unavoidable circumstances the election process for organisational election – 2010 of PCC president, PCC executive, AICC members and Pradesh election committees in Sikkim has been postponed till further announcement”.
Khan had stayed in Gangtok till September 12, the penultimate day for filing of nominations. He was overseeing the election process of the SPCC.

SPCC President N.B.Bhandari

Speaking to SIKKIM EXPRESS over phone, Khan said that Upreti had approached the party high command on the SPCC president election issue. While giving orders that the SPCC election process be postponed, Congress chief election officer Oscar Franandez has assured Upreti to enquire into his grievances and come up with a decision soon, he said.
The postponement order from faxed to the SPCC headquarters here on September 17, at a moment when it was being asked when Bhandari will take up his president post for the third consecutive time.
As per the party sources, the announcement of Bhandari as the new president was supposed to take place today but contrary to the expectations, the statement about the election process being postponed came.
When his response was sought on the postponement, Bhandari said that he has no statements to make at the moment.

Meanwhile, Upreti told Sikkim Express that he and his supporters had met Sikkim in-charge Luizino Faleriaro at Delhi on September 14. When he heard our grievances, he called up Zubair Khan and in consultation with Oscar Fernandez, the SPCC election process has been postponed till further notice, he said.
“We told the party high command that Bhandari is not very much interested in fulfilling his responsibilities as the SPCC president. Since the 2009 elections, he has not met party president Sonia Gandhi and was averse to maintaining good relations and network with the party high command which had a demoralizing effect on the party supporters here”, said Upreti.
Upreti said that he briefed the party high command that elections to the SPCC president post have created huge divisions in the party. We want the SPCC president to be nominated by the AICC president but Bhandari got scared and remained adamant on the elections, he said.
Even the central leadership is not happy with Bhandari, though whether he would be retained as the SPCC president by the party president is another matter, said Upreti.
On asked what will happen next, Upreti said that the party high command would be submitting a report to Sonia Gandhi. What decision she would take, we cannot say at this juncture, he said. The decision will come in next 10-12 days and we are hoping for an early conclusion, he said.
When asked if he is ready to accept the SPCC president post if the party high command opts for him instead of Bhandari, Upreti replied in affirmative. “I will accept the decision”, he said.

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