Kalikho Pul, who was sworn in as Arunachal Pradesh’s eighth chief minister last Friday, is confident of passing the trial of strength in the 60-member assembly sought within 10 days of his assuming office. Rejecting theories that he would go to BJP, which is supporting his government, he said he has nothing personal against predecessor Nabam Tuki, and that his fight was only against a corrupt system that took a toll on the frontier state’s law and order situation. Excerpts from an interview:
Will you survive the floor test with only 19 MLAs?
Yes. We have the numbers and more Congress MLAs (from Tuki camp) are joining us. One of them – Likha Saya – is already with us while 12 others are waiting for a court case to be heard (on Monday). We have the support of others but the Congress MLAs, irrespective of camp, are one big family and it will do what is needed to ensure stability. The ministry will be formed after the floor test.
Will BJP swallow your Congress government as speculated?
Speculations are meaningless. Ours is a Congress government and will continue to be one. The BJP had no role in all that has happened (dismissal of Tuki government and imposition of President’s Rule). I did not meet any of their central leaders, nor state leaders. They have supported me because of a common cause – corruption and deterioration of law and order.
Will you take up corruption cases against Tuki?
I have nothing personal against Tukiji. My brand of politics is not vindictive; I will not victimise anyone simply because I was victimised. I want to take everyone along for the greater good of Arunachal Pradesh. I will not slap cases against anyone, but public leaders are answerable to the people and law will take its own course.
Have you been in touch with the Congress leadership, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in particular?
I am in touch with the Congress leadership except for Soniaji, who I hope to meet after the floor test. I have been apprising them of the developments and reassuring them that a Congress government will rule this state. Rahul Gandhi congratulated me on becoming CM, so did Kamal Nath, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Salman Khursheed and V Narayanaswamy.
What are your priorities and what changes do you want to usher in?
Lack of fiscal discipline in the last few years hit the state so much that government employees were not receiving salaries for five months, students dropped out of schools without stipends for nine months, and police got no uniforms for 6 years. I want to ensure a responsive, result-oriented government through fiscal discipline, judicious utilisation of public funds, maintenance of assets created, focus on six critical sectors such as health, education and electricity, infrastructure development and law and order. Peace is important for development, and I have told the district authorities that I will back every step they take in public interest.