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Last Updated : May 23, 2019 09:34 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Lok Sabha election 2019 | Pema Khandu – the man who made BJP mainstream in Arunachal Pradesh

Khandu is the second BJP CM in the state after Gegong Apang (who also defected from the Congress) had a short 44-day stint on the job in 2003.

Jocelyn Fernandes @scribeJocelyn
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu (Image: Twitter/@PemaKhanduBJP)
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu (Image: Twitter/@PemaKhanduBJP)

Arunachal Pradesh, one of the seven sisters, is predominantly on the mainstream news over disputes in the Tawang-region, which borders China. A long-standing Congress bastion since 1977, which was when the first general assembly elections were held.

39-year-old Pema Khandu is a young, dynamic politician, who was propelled to the centre stage post the death of his father and former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, reshaping the state's political scene.

In September 2016, Pema Khandu, the youngest chief minister at 37 (then), and 43 other MLAs had defected from the ruling Indian National Congress to the People's Party of Arunachal (PPA), an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to form the new state government.

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Long-standing local dynamics between the Congress and PPA aside, this marked a turn for politics in the north-eastern state, providing BJP with concrete inroads into a traditional Congress bastion. Further in December the same year, Khandu, along with six other MLAs who were suspended from the PPA, went on to prove his majority on the floor of the house and joined the BJP.

Khandu is the second BJP CM in the state after Gegong Apang (who also defected from the Congress) had a short 44-day stint on the job in 2003. And his post is likely to be secured for another term, as Election Commission data shows the BJP leading in both of the state’s Lok Sabha seats – with a margin of 81,221 in Arunachal West and 37,218 in Arunachal East.

The state had simultaneous Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in a single phase on April 11. The process has been marred by allegations and violence after gun-point attacks, shootings, EVM capture and paid votes controversies cropped up.

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala pointed to two videos purportedly showing cash being recovered in the presence of EC officials, the local administration and the police after CM Khandu’s convoy was found with Rs 1.8 crore in cash ahead of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi rally in Pasighat.

While the veracity of the videos was not established, Congress said they were available on social media and showed the cash being counted by police officers in the presence of EC's Expenditure Officer Samrita Kaur Gill. Pasighat Deputy Commissioner Kinny Singh is heard talking in the video and stacks of cash are visible, he said.

On his part during the campaign trail, Khandu claimed the BJP-government changed the situation in the state and lashed out at the Congress alleging that "deep-rooted" corruption was a "gift" of the Grand Old Party, which had ruled the state for several decades.

Khandu is contesting the election from Mukto assembly seat, for which the result is yet to be announced. He had previously won the 2014 election from the seat.

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First Published on May 23, 2019 09:34 pm
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