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Thu, 12 Dec 2019

Northeast Today

Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Polls 2019: BJP seeks another term with ‘Mission 60+2’

Arunachal Pradesh Assembly Polls 2019: BJP seeks another term with ‘Mission 60+2’
April 03
13:01 2019

NET Bureau

Arunachal Pradesh will head for polls on April 11 to elect a new Legislative Assembly and two Members of Parliament for the Lok Sabha.

The voting for the state polls and the general election will be held simultaneously in the state’s 60 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu is seeking re-election.

Politics in the hill state has been dominated by Congress since its inception. However, there have been governments led by the Janata Party, People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), Arunachal Congress (Mithi) and United Democratic Front.

In 2014, the Congress had emerged victorious after winning 42 seats. The BJP came second with 11 seats. The PPA managed to win five seats while two Independents also won.

Although Congress had formed the government in 2014, the party lost power after many of its MLAs joined PPA. They eventually joined the BJP.

Since February 2016, Arunachal Pradesh has seen three chief ministers and President’s Rule — making the state’s political landscape unstable. However, Khandu has led a largely stable government since early 2017.

The contenders

The state is set to witness a three-cornered fight between the ruling BJP, NPP (which is a member of the BJP-led Northeast Democratic Alliance) and the Congress.

BJP: The incumbent party is hoping to retain power. It currently has 48 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP already has an advantage as it is set to win three seats uncontested. It will be contesting all 60 seats.  In fact, it is gunning for ‘Mission 60+2’ — winning 60 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats.

The BJP’s vote share in 2014 was just under 40 percent in the state.

National People’s Party (NPP): The party, founded by former Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader PA Sangma, is now led by his son Conrad Sangma. NPP is the second largest party in the state’s Assembly with seven MLAs. However, three of them have joined the Congress. NPP will be contesting at least 30 seats.

This will be NPP’s electoral debut in the state. In March, around 20 senior BJP leaders, including eight MLAs, joined NPP. This included BJP state general secretary Jarpum Gamlin, state home minister Kumar Waii and tourism minister Jarkar Gamlin. They were reportedly unhappy with the ticket distribution.

However, on March 30, Conrad said NPP would support the BJP if the latter falls short of the half-way mark.

Congress: The Rahul Gandhi-led party is the key Opposition party in the state even though it has three MLAs in the Assembly. The party has fielded 46 candidates. While Congress has just a handful of members in the outgoing Assembly, it had secured 49.50 percent of the votes in the previous election. The party is banking on this voter base and diverse demography to win the election.

Issues

Some of key issues in the state include the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the issue of Permanent Resident Certificates (PRC) to six not-native communities.

BJP has been pushing for The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal immigrants (Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan) eligible for Indian citizenship.

As the bill was already passed in Lok Sabha, it only had to be pushed through Rajya Sabha. However, as the 16th Lok Sabha concluded its final scheduled sitting on February 13, the bill now stands to officially lapse on June 3. However, the party has said it would reintroduce the Bill if they retain power.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi, at an election rally in the state, said his party will scrap the Bill if voted to power.

In February, it was announced that the state government has decided to not accept the recommendations of a high-level committee to grant PRC to six communities, and blamed the Congress for “instigating” a section of people. Congress has raked up the issue of police firing on local residents.

The move came after widespread violence was witnessed in the state capital Itanagar and other places, leading to the death of at least two persons, injury to several and destruction of properties and vehicles.

People in some parts of the state have been protesting after the state government announced that it was considering issuing PRC to six non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe (APSTs) communities living in the Namsai and Changlang districts and to the Gorkhas living in Vijaynagar.

Amongst those communities are Deoris, Sonowal Kacharis, Morans, Adivasis and Mishings. Most of these communities are recognised as Scheduled Tribes in neighbouring Assam.

Opinion polls

While there have been no major opinion polls for the assembly polls, a Republic TV-CVoter survey from January suggests that the BJP would win both the Lok Sabha seats. In 2014, the Arunachal Pradesh (East) constituency was won by Congress’ Ninong Ering and the Arunachal Pradesh (West) seat by BJP’s Kiren Rijiju.

Source: Money Control

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