ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sikkim : Elections and Casteist Politics

Elections in Sikkim continue to be largely determined by caste and ethnic loyalties. The October 1999 election results show that the electorate is significantly polarised on the backward class issue. The many regional parties and even a national party like the Congress(I) have had to suitably fine-tune their manifestos to suit regional aspirations.

After the election results of the 6th assembly elections in Sikkim, the Sikkim Democratic Front supremo P K Chamling said that “the people of Sikkim have discarded casteist politics, though the opposition fought to entire election on a casteist card” (Weekend Review, October 8-14, 1999). Many political analysts dealing with elections have opined that India is a caste-ridden society and the voters tend to vote on caste lines. A contrary opinion believes that caste is no longer a potent force in influencing the voting choice of the people [Jena and Baral 1989:48].

More than 75 per cent population of Sikkim is of Nepalese origin. The Nepalese are a caste-ridden society and the voting behaviour of the electorate was expected to be on caste lines as is usual in other parts of India. Indeed the elections were characterised by the electorate demonstrating loyalties towards its specific caste representatives, and caste associations played an increasingly dominant role.

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