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May 29, 1999
Sikkim parties plead for simultaneous polls
Political parties in Sikkim favour the holding of assembly elections along with the Lok Sabha elections in September-October.
All parties, including the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front, the opposition Sikkim Sangram Parishad and the Congress, met Election Commissioner G V G Krishnamurthy on Thursday and reiterated their demand for holding simultaneous polls in the Himalayan state, preferably in the last week of September.
Krishnamurthy, who was on a two-day visit to the state to take stock of the poll preparation and ongoing special revision of electoral rolls, said a decision on holding of simultaneous polls would be taken by the commission after going through the pros and cons in the nine states -- Karnataka, Sikkim, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Orissa, Arunachal Pradesh and Bihar.
The terms in these states would expire between December 25 and April 9.
A five-member Sikkim Pradesh Congress Committee delegation, led by former minister and SPCC vice-president, had apprised Krishnamurthy of the need for sealing the state's borders with Nepal in the west, China and Tibet in the north and Bhutan in the east during the polls to prevent any law and order problems.
The party had also demanded introduction of electronic voting machines in all 370 polling stations in the state for total transparency.
The Congress had demanded that deployment of the central security forces be controlled by the central agencies in the state.
The ruling SDF, too, in its representation had reiterated its demand for simultaneous assembly and parliamentary polls in Sikkim. It had, however, requested the Election Commission to use the electronic voting machine only in the urban areas of the state, where the machine could be utilised properly.
The main opposition, the SSP had expressed its consent to hold simultaneous polls, but under President's rule and not under a caretaker government.
The party had protested against the faulty revised electoral rolls being conducted by the state election machinery under the control of the ruling SDF.
Meanwhile, a two-member delegation comprising Sikkim's first chief minister Kazi Lendup Dorjee Khangserpa and the state's first agriculture minister Krishna Chandra Pradhan had demanded that the electoral roll in Sikkim should be prepared making the 1974 roll as the base.
In its representation to the Election Commission, Dorjee had suggested that the revision of the roll be done by a team of "special" officers, deputed by the commission.
They clarified that the people, who had come to the state from other parts of the country for work and settled here permanently, could include their names in the electoral rolls if they produced "no-objection" certificates from the concerned authorities of their respective districts of earlier residence.
They had also pointed out that in accordance with Article 371 (f) of the Constitution, only ethnic communities of the state should be allowed to contest elections.
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