GANGTOK, May 24 - Opposition Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), led by its firebrand leader Prem Singh Tamang, popularly known as PS Golay, ended Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling�s 25-year rule in the border State after a close contest.
Of the State�s 32 seats, Golay�s SKM won 17 seats, leaving the Chief Minister and his Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) totally stunned, which won 15 seats. The counting of votes for the 32 seats concluded late last night.
In a solace for the 68-year-old outgoing Chief Minister, he won both the Poklok-Kamrang and Namchi Singhithang seats, on way to a record eighth term as a legislator.
His ministerial colleague DT Lepcha, too, entered the State legislature from two seats � Martam Rumtek and Gnathang-Machong. Other ministers � Ugen T Gyatso Bhutia and NK Subba � also romped home from the Tumin-Lingi and Maneybong-Dentam Assembly constituencies.
Minister Garjman Gurung, however, lost the election from the Khamdong-Singtam seat.
For the SKM, Kunga Nima Lepcha won from the Gangtok and Shyari Assembly seats, while party supremo PS Golay�s 28-year-old son Aditya Golay entered the house from the Soreng-Chakung Assembly seat.
The SKM is likely to convene a parliamentary board meeting on Friday to elect its Chief Ministerial candidate, a party leader said.
The SKM�s Women Front general secretary Pabitra Bhandari said that the party cadre would like PS Golay to become the next Chief Minister.
�It is the general wish of the party cadres that Golay himself lead the next government as he took the nascent party to an electoral victory in Sikkim after prolonged struggle for more than five years,� she said.
However, it is up to the leadership on the next Chief Minister, Bhandari said.
Meanwhile, the SKM cadres burst firecrackers at various places in Sikkim and raised slogans to celebrate an unlikely victory of the party. They also took out a victory procession in the State capital to mark the historic occasion.
The SDF has accepted the verdict. �We thank the people of Sikkim for giving us a long rope to serve them. We did our best to take our State on the path of development and prosperity under the leadership of Pawan Kumar Chamling,� its spokesperson KT Gyaltsen said.
The SDF also congratulated the SKM on its victory. � PTI