- NET Web Desk
Saturday, July 17 2021 may seem a day like any other but it is quite significant for the state of Arunachal Pradesh and its Chief Minister Pema Khandu.
It is on this day five years back the Pema Khandu took the oath of office to serve the state as head of the executive branch. The win of the 2019 elections may have cemented his leadership, but it was not the same when he took over the helm of chief ministership in mid-2016.
At the backdrop were years of uncertainty in Arunachal politics. After the tragic death of his father Dorjee Khandu on April 30, 2011, in the intervening five years, Arunachal Pradesh saw four chief ministers. Even the initial months were not easy for him as well. He had to shift from Congress to PPA and later to BJP by the end of 2016. What remained constant were his calm head and his stable leadership. Now five years later Pema Khandu is the second longest serving Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh after Gegong Apang.
In his very first year, he launched a campaign to root out corruption in the state by asking senior government officers to compulsorily sensitise the citizens to it. It made him the first CM in the political history of the state to acknowledge rampant corruption and take concrete measures against it.
Even though Pema Khandu became a CM at the age of 37 he dared to admit everything was not hunkey dory and faced it head-on with his signature calm demeanour.
To root out corruption in govt recruitment he streamlined the whole process by setting up the Arunachal Pradesh Staff Selection Board (APSSB).
Under his crisp and clear directions, the state’s Revenue collection increased yearly, monthly cabinet meetings took place, regular reviews on the status of projects and schemes were taken, officers and contractors were passed through the scanner, digitalization of governance was started in earnest; in short, his decisions and actions revolved around the mantra of transparency and accountability.
Arunachal Pradesh’s annual budget became a collaborative effort with community-based organisations, student organisations, women bodies, political parties, legislators, administrators, and even common citizens pitched in their ideas and views.
Covid-19 may have derailed many things but ‘Pema Bhai’ as he was fondly called overhauled the health infrastructure of Arunachal Pradesh. Building of new hospitals, retrofitting old ones, and starting ‘Arogya Arunachal’, an insurance scheme for those who cannot afford costly healthcare shows that this CM has honed his ‘Health Governance’ skills when many are faltering.
Much has been done in revamping the road infrastructure, building connectivity through airports, new railway stations for this frontier state of India.
However, challenges remain for him. For the next three and a half years of his term, Pema Khandu will have to negotiate the uneven and inaccessible geographic terrains of the state to develop infrastructure and industry, generate ample employment and livelihood for its people, make sure healthcare reaches all and more.
What is reassuring is his track record for the last five years. One can certainly be hoping that he will continue the path he has laid in the last five years with the same calm demeanor and action-oriented nonchalant style.