It’s 50-year-old Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s first assembly election after assuming office. He took over in November 2011 after a majority of the 42 Congress legislators opposed the swearing-in of Jarbom Gamlin following the death of Dorjee Khandu in a helicopter crash.
While the assembly elections in the state was not due till October, Tuki caught the opposition unawares by recommending that the assembly be dissolved and elections be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls. The BJP, the NCP and the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) had so far been gearing up for the Lok Sabha polls only.
Now, as the state goes into simultaneous assembly and Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has the advantage of having already won 11 of the 60 assembly seats unopposed. Prominent among those who have been declared elected include Tuki himself and tourism minister Pema Khandu.
“That we have already won 11 seats unopposed makes it clear that the Congress is going to sweep the assembly election. The two Lok Sabha seats are also going to be with us again,” Chief Minister Tuki said.
The Congress, which had won 34 seats in 2004, increased its strength to 42 in 2009, while the BJP went down from nine in 2004 to just three in 2009.
The Congress will expect to increase its vote share this time by enhancing the monthly honorarium of the gaon-barras (village heads). Tuki had also last week assured voters that once re-elected, he would provide gaon-burras two units of free power, a mobile phone and a colour television set each.
For the BJP, “things are not going to be that easy,” said state BJP president Tai Tagak, before adding, “we have put up 42 candidates; all of them are strong and are going to give the Congress a run for its money,” he said.
“One must also keep in mind the huge turnouts in the two rallies attended by Narendra Modi. The younger generation will vote for change,” Tagak said.
He however thinks dissolving the assembly six months prior to its expiry was a conspiracy against the people of state.
While the Congress got its top two campaigners Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to rally in the state, the BJP was not far behind either, with both president Rajnath Singh and PM candidate Narendra Modi addressing rallies.