Arunachal chief minister wins poll unopposed third time

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,

Itanagar : Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu is third time lucky to have been elected unopposed to the 60-member state legislature — a rare feat for a politician in India.

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The chief minister and two more ruling Congress members were declared elected unopposed — sitting MLA Tsewang Dhondup from Tawang constituency and debutant Jambey Tashi from the Lumla seat.

Khandu was elected unopposed from the Mukto constituency in Tawang district, bordering China, in the 1999 and 2004 assembly elections as well.

“It is not my fault that there are no opposition candidates against me from Mukto in the elections. Even if there were candidates, my victory would have been certain as people know what we did for the overall development of the state,” the chief minister told IANS.

Elections for the 57 of the 60 assembly seats would be held Oct 13 with counting of votes scheduled for Oct 22.

No one had filed nominations against the three till the last date for it Sep 25.

Apart from the Congress that has fielded candidates on all the 60 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) is putting up 30 contestants. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is fighting 22 seats, while there is a surprise element with the Trinamool Congress fielding 28 candidates.

Of the Trinamool Congress contestants, five are former Congress party ministers and 10 are sitting MLAs from the ruling party who were denied tickets this time.

“The selection of party tickets was done by the high command based on the performance of the MLAs in the last Lok Sabha elections; whether they were able to get the desired results in the general elections earlier this year,” Khandu said.

NCP state chief and former home minister L. Wanglet said the political equations in Arunachal Pradesh would change with national parties in the fray this time.

“We are expecting to win about 10 to 12 seats on our own and surely the equations would change and (it would) not be easy for the Congress,” Wanglet said.

There is no opposition in the present 60-member house — the Congress has 45 members and enjoys the support of 13 independent legislators and two legislators from the Arunachal Congress, a regional party. Of the 13 independents, six have applied for Congress membership.

The political equations were different after the 2004 assembly elections with the Congress party winning 34 of the 60 seats, independents 13, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nine, and the Nationalist Congress Party and the Arunachal Congress two each.

In subsequent years, the Congress managed to break the opposition — the nine BJP and two NCP legislators joined the ruling party, while all the 13 independents and the two Arunachal Congress MLAs lent support to the Congress.

“We are sure to sweep the polls as people would vote for a party that believes in development,” the chief minister said rejecting reports of any threat from other national parties.