NEW DELHI : The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday opened its account in the Sikkim legislative assembly, with 10 out of the 13 MLAs of the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) in the House joining the party.

SDF founder and former Sikkim chief minister Pawan Kumar Chamling, however, was not among those who joined the BJP.

The SDF, having been in power in the state for five consecutive terms since 1993, lost to the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) in the May 2019 assembly elections, with the SKM winning 17 out of the 32 seats.

“All 10 MLAs of SDF have joined BJP and this is the first time that almost an entire legislative party has joined another political party. We have requested senior leaders of the BJP to come to Sikkim and help us in the growth of the party," said Dorjee Tshering Lepcha, a senior SDF leader, who joined the BJP.

Lepcha said the MLAs were hopeful that the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will bring development to the border state. “We want the BJP to form government in Sikkim and our primary focus will be to increase the grassroots presence of the BJP in the state. This will help us strengthen the organizational network of the party," he added.

Lepcha said the people of the state, especially the youth and first-time voters, want the BJP to grow in Sikkim.

Speaking to reporters in Delhi, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav said that the SDF had won 15 seats in assembly elections, but since some candidates contested more than one seat, the party has 13 MLAs out of which 10 have joined the BJP.

“SDF was in power in Sikkim for 25 years and now most of the MLAs of the legislative party have joined the BJP. We will fulfil the responsibilities of an Opposition party in Sikkim and strengthen the organizational base of the party," said Ram Madhav, who is also in-charge of the party’s affairs in the North-east.