The ruling Congress party has emerged as the frontrunner in the coming assembly elections in Arunachal Pradesh, with the fractured opposition unlikely to spring any surprises.
Elections to the 60-member legislature is scheduled for October 13 but voting would take place for just 57 seats. Three candidates have been declared elected unopposed.
The three are Chief minister Dorjee Khandu and Congress members (incumbent) Tsewang Dhondup from Tawang constituency and debutant Jambey Tashi from Lumla.
The chief minister was elected unopposed from the Mukto constituency in Tawang district bordering China in 1999 and 2004 as well.
"We are sure to win the elections hands down as people will vote for development and stability. Our government has been able to provide a major boost to the overall economic progress of the state," Khandu told IANS.
A total of 157 candidates are in the fray for the October 13 elections.
Apart from the Congress that had fielded candidates in all the 60 seats, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has put up 30 candidates and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) 22. The surprise entrant is the Trinamool Congress, which has 28 candidates in the fray.
Of the 28 candidates fielded by the Trinamool Congress, five are former Congress ministers and 10 are incumbent legislators from the ruling party who were denied the ticket this time.
"Our main campaign issue is development and good governance. People know what we did in the past. We are confident of their support," said Congress MP Takam Sanjay.
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 regional Arunachal Congress party. Six of the independents have applied for Congress membership.
The political equations were different after the 2004 assembly elections with the Congress winning 34 seats, independents 13, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) nine and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Arunachal Congress two each.
In later years, the Congress managed to break the opposition. The nine BJP and two NCP legislators joined the ruling party while all 13 independents and the two Arunachal Congress legislators lent their support to the Congress.
The opposition is trying to put up a brave front, with NCP state chief and former home minister L. Wanglet claiming that political equations in Arunachal Pradesh would change with other national parties in the fray this time.
"We are expecting to win 10 to 12 seats. The elections will not be easy for the Congress," Wanglet said.
The opposition is raking up the issue of Chinese incursion into Arunachal Pradesh and the alleged lack of development during the Congress regime.
"The central government is still not categorical about China's claims over Arunachal Pradesh. We need a bold step and no nonsense type of an attitude from New Delhi," said P Chandrashekhar, the BJP organizing secretary for the northeast.
An estimated 750,000 voters are eligible to exercise their franchise Oct 13. Security arrangements have been intensified in about 2,000 polling booths in the state.
Said an Election Commission official: "We are only worried about the inhospitable terrain. Polling personnel have been sent to some booths that require trekking of up to five-to-seven days."