2024 elections in Arunachal Pradesh | Major issues for ‘Battle of Ballots’

By Pradeep Kumar

ITANAGAR, Apr 11: Arunachal Pradesh is gearing up for simultaneous Lok Sabha and assembly elections on April 19 with many key electoral issues, including infrastructure, border area development,  APPSC paper leakage ‘scam’ and corruption.

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has already deployed general observers, who have been reaching their designated assembly constituencies, few by trekking tough hilly terrains, to hold meeting with officers on poll duty to prepare them to ensure hassle free elections. Anini assembly constituency general observer H.N Gopala Krishna is seen trekking through hilly terrains to visit polling stations (in picture).

The state has two parliamentary constituencies and total 60 assembly seats of which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has won 10 seats uncontested. The results of 50 Assembly seats will be announced on June 2 while counting of votes for Lok Sabha polls will be on June 4.

The BJP in 2019 assembly elections had registered a landslide victory by winning 41 seats to form the Govt led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu.  The rest seats were won by Janata Dal (United) -7, National People’s Party (NPP) – 5, Congress – 4 and People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) -1 and Independents -2.

The ruling party this time is targeting to win most of the rest 50 seats. Interestingly, the political equations had changed after sitting MLAs – Ninong Ering (Pasighat West), Lombo Tayeng (Mebo) and Wanglin Lowangdong (Borduria-Bogapani) of Congress; Mutchu Mithi (Roing) and Gokar Basar (Basar) of NPP and independent Chakat Aboh (Khonsa West) had joined the BJP and were issued tickets.

CM Khandu (Mukto), DCM Chowna Meing (Chowkham), Ratu Techi (Sagalee), Jikke Tako (Tali), Nyato Dukam (Taliha), Mutchu Mithi (Roing), Hage Appa (Ziro-Hapoli), Techi Kaso (Itanagar), Dongru Siongju (Bomdila) and Dasanglu Pul (Hayuliang) have won. In fact, the Congress in 2014 had created a record by winning 11 seats unopposed.

Arunachal Pradesh, geographically 14th largest state of India with tough terrains, poses various challenges for development.

Infrastructure development: The ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress are focusing their poll campaigns on electoral promises and development agendas in this hilly state. While on one hand, the BJP is highlighting infrastructure and border area development, the Congress, on the other, has been targeting the state Govt over alleged corruption in multiple matters.

Job creations: BJP national president JP Nadda, CM Khandu, state party president Biyuram Wahge and Assam BJP leader-cum-state incharge Ashok Singhal, while unveiling party manifesto here on Wednesday by promising to create 25,000 job opportunities for youth and women in Govt and non-Govt sectors.

APPSC paper leak ‘scam’: The Opposition also targets the state Govt over Arunachal Pradesh Public Service Commission (APPSC) paper leak ‘scam’ and recruitment irregularities in the state education department.

The question paper for the assistant engineer (civil) exam conducted by the APPSC in 2022 was leaked, casting a shadow over the credibility of the state’s recruitment process.

Socio-economic concerns: The recent ‘Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, conducted by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi saw promises of five guarantees to state’s youth and women, if the grand old party returned to power. This highlights the Congress’ efforts to mobilise support by addressing socio-economic concerns and promising inclusive governance.

The BJP, however, is confident of winning both the Lok Sabha and most assembly seats by showcasing all-round development to administrative landscape, transformation with inclusive and transparent governance after Khandu assumed office as the CM on 17.07. 2016.

In fact, Khandu after taking over the rein had cautioned the GoAP officers and employees ‘to either perform or perish’ that accelerated the growth process of the state to win one after another national accolade for unparalleled development.

The best example is with the APPSC paper leak scam, which initially was investigated by Itanagar police had arrested 10 people, including APPSC’s deputy secretary-cum-exam controller Taket Jerang, under multiple sections of the IPC, including fraud, cheating and breach of trust. The special investigation cell took over the case before it was handed over to the CBI. As of September 2023, 54 people were arrested, including 41 GoAP officials..

Moreover, the CM had taken steps to reconstitute the APPSC, the premier recruitment institution of the state, to regain faith of the masses.

Meanwhile, the ECI has sought strict vigil along the India-China border during the simultaneous polls in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

All said and done, it is time to watch the campaign trails across the state and wait for the announcement of results to know which party secured how many seats of the assembly and Lok Sabha seats.

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