Brisk polling is recorded in the first six hours in the three Sikkim Assembly constituencies where by-elections are underway on Monday, election officials said.
“The polls have been very peaceful as of now,” the Sikkim Chief Electoral Officer’s office told IANS. Between 33 and 55 per cent, voters exercised their franchise in these constituencies.
The crucial Poklok-Kaamrang constituency in South Sikkim, from where Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang alias P.S. Golay is trying his luck as the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha candidate, 54.83 per cent votes were cast till 1 p.m.
SKM president Golay has to win the election to continue in office.
The polling figure was 47.48 per cent in Martam-Rumtek and 33.22 per cent in Gangtok — both in East Sikkim district and reserved for the Bhutia-Lepcha communities.
The fate of 15 candidates will be decided in the by-polls.
There are three candidates in Poklok-Kaamrang, and six contestants each in Martam-Rumtek and Gangtok.
Golay is up against Sikkim Democratic Front’s (SDF) Moses Rai and Yadhu Kumar Rai of Sikkim Republican Party’s (SRP) at Poklok-Kaamrang, where the by-polls became necessary after the former Chief Minister Pawan Chamling resigned from the seat, having also won from Namchi-Singhithang in the polls in April.
Former Indian football captain and Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP) working president Bhaichung Bhutia is in the fray from Gangtok where Rinzing Ongmu Bhutia of SDF and Yong Tshering Lepcha of BJP are the other formidable candidates.
In Mariam-Rumtek, the SDF has fielded Nuk Tshering Bhutia, against Sonam Tshering Venchungpa of BJP, and four other candidates.
The SKM and the BJP are fighting the polls together, with the saffron party in the race from Mariam-Rumtek Aand Gangtok, and SKM from APoklok-Kaamrang.
In the 32-member Sikkim Assembly, the ruling SKM now has 18 legislators, followed by BJP (10) and SDF (1). Three seats are vacant.