Policy & Politics

Indian Football Legend Bhaichung Bhutia Loses 6th Election In 10 Years

OB Bureau

Gangtok: He may have been one of India’s greatest footballers who is still a role model for budding players, but Bhaichung Bhutia is yet to master electoral politics fully.

The former India captain came second-best in the Sikkim Assembly elections, which were held simultaneously with Lok Sabha polls.

It was the 47-year-old Bhaichung’s sixth defeat in 10 elections (Lok Sabha and Assembly) he has contested in since taking the plunge in politics 10 years ago.

Bhaichung, representing Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) party, lost to Rikshal Dorjee Bhutia of the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) by 4,346 votes in the Barfung constituency. According to official data courtesy Election Commission of India, Rikshal received 8,358 votes while Bhaichung got 4,012.

In a remarkable performance, the ruling SKM, led by Prem Singh Tamang, secured a second straight term in the Himalayan state by winning 31 out of the 32 seats, reducing Bhaichung’s party to just a solitary seat.

Sikkim Assembly elections were held in a single phase on April 19.

Bhaichung joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) in 2014 and fought for the party twice from West Bengal. He lost both times – in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Darjeeling and 2016 Assembly elections from Siliguri.

He thereafter moved his electoral base to home state Sikkim and formed his own party — Hamro Sikkim Party — in 2018.

He fought the 2019 assembly elections from Gangtok and Tumen-Lingi, but tasted defeated in both attempts. He also lost the 2019 bypoll from Gangtok.

Last year, Bhaichung merged Hamro Sikkim with the SDF. He is currently the vice-president of the SDF, the main opposition party of the north-eastern state.

OB Bureau

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