Poll tradition in Arunachal Pradesh on test on May 5
The tradition of returning only ruling party candidates will be tested once again in the May 5 poll for two Lok Sabha seats in Arunachal.
The tradition of returning only ruling party candidates will be tested once again in the May 5 poll for two Lok Sabha seats in Arunachal Pradesh where the BJP for the first time as a ruling party was virtually locked in a straight fight against opposition Congress and Arunachal Congress candidates.
The authorities have taken increased security measures to ensure peaceful poll in the face of a poll boycott call given by All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) in protest against the inclusion of names of 1497 Chakma-Hajong refugees in the state electoral rolls.
The Centre has despatched 17 companies of para military forces-10 companies more than what the state received during 1999 elections, according to Manish Gupta, Home Secretary of the state.
In Arunachal East Parliamentary constituency, the fight is mainly between old rival of BJP and Congress. BJP's Tapir Gao who had lost to Congress candidate Wangcha Raj Kumar by over 51,000 votes in 1999, is again facing Wangcha this time as a ruling party candidate. Among the four other in independents Tony Pertin is a popular leader.
In Arunachal West the fight is manily between BJP's young leader Khiren Rijiju, party's state unit General Secretary and member of Khadi and Village Industries Commission, and Arunachal Congress (AC) President Kamen Ringu, an ally of Congress.
Rijiju, a law graduate from Delhi University and former student leader was chosen from among a number of aspirants.
His opponent Kamen Ringu, a graduate of St. Edmund College, Shillong was supported by Congress which "sacrificed" the seat for him to give a tough fight to BJP as Ringu was once very close to Chief Minister Gegong Apang and has a clean public image.
Jarbom Gamlin won the seat last time as the then ruling Congress candidate. But he is not contesting this time.
Former minister Tadar Taniang of Nationalist Trinomool Congress, former minister Kardo Taipodia of Samajwadi Party and Kidoing of Samata Party and two independents are also in the fray.
Though the climate is pleasant with occasional rainfall, the campaigning remained lacklustre following apex student organisation's call for poll boycott on the emotive refugee issue. Central leaders of both BJP and Congress stayed away from campaigning and observers believe the reason is the vexed refugee issue.
BJP, however, in a bid to increase the tempo, have brought in Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayananda and Union Minister for Development of North East Region (DONER) Dr C P Thakur for a public meeting here today at the fag end of the campaign. But these two ministers often visit the state and people are well aware of their views.
Both Congress and BJP blamed each other for inclusion of the refugees in the voter list. Besides the refugee issue, the state leaders of Congress highlighted "corruption" by the ministers and their "incapabilities" and Centre's neglect in allocating fund for the development of Arunachal Pradesh.
BJP leaders focus has been on the image of Prime Minister A B Vajpayee who created a new DONER Ministry with special fund allocation for the development of the region.
State leaders of both the parties are holding public rallies and arrange door to door campaigning for their respective candidates.