Gangtok, March 16 (IANS) Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) President Pawan Chamling, the country's longest-serving Chief Minister, kicked off poll campaign here on Saturday with a brief rally and a declaration that the people of the state should prepare the agenda of the government and the same will be implemented within 100 days of formation of the new government.
Speaking to supporters in front of the Denzong cinema hall at Lall Bazaar, he said: "Just as the fate of movies is decided by the box office, the fate of politicians is decided by polls. We should all work towards peace and overall development of the people of Sikkim."
"The new government will be youth-centric," said Chamling, who is bidding to be the Chief Minister of Sikkim, a strategically located border state, for a record sixth term.
In a social media post, Chamling wrote: "We will be commencing our election campaign, starting from Lall Bazar, Gangtok, and covering every place on its way towards Namchi, South Sikkim. I will interact with the members of the public along the route."
Sikkim has 400,000 voters, but because of its mountainous geography, it is a challenge to connect with them.
The 2019 elections will test all the three main contenders -- the SDF, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) and the Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP). Some smaller parties are also in the contest to corner some of the 32 Assembly seats and the lone Lok Sabha seat.
With the breakdown in alliance talks between the SKM and the BJP over seats, the contest will be between three local parties. The SKM leadership has said they would not join hands with the BJP until certain demands are met.
The decision to call off the alliance, taken during the SKM central executive committee meeting at Jorethang in South Sikkim, was shared on social media by SKM functionaries.
The SKM is led by P.S. Golay, who was a Minister in the SDF government before being removed on corruption charges. He even spent two years in prison. Golay had said the charges against him were trumped up.