Arunachal Pradesh, which is heading for simultaneous elections to its 60-member state assembly alongside the Lok Sabha polls on April 9, will see a contest among crorepatis in most of the seats. But while 91 of the candidates are crorepatis, there is at least one candidate who has joined the fray with just Rs 3,500 cash in hand and a bank balance of just Rs 40.44.
“I am a poor man. I do get a pension because I am a former MLA. But that is hardly enough for me to survive,” says Bida Taku, former Congress MLA from Seppa in East Kameng district, who is contesting as a People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) candidate from Lekang LAC in Lohit district.
The Rs 3,500 cash and the bank balance of Rs 40.44 are all the assets, movable or immovable, that Taku, 55, has declared in his affidavit. Taku is a former minister (in the Gegong Apang government during 1995-99). At least two of his rivals in the five-cornered contest for Lekang are crorepatis.
“Yes, I have two wives, but they have their own businesses, in which I have no share. The Mahindra Xylo in which I am moving around for my election campaign belongs to one of my wives, who has bought it with her income,” said Taku. Interestingly, Taku is taking on former minister Chowna Mein on the latter’s home turf of Lekang, eyeing the non-tribal votes which constitute an overwhelming majority in the assembly constituency.
Taku said the Lekang assembly seat has over 15,000 voters, of whom over 10,000 are either from Assam or are Deuri tribals whose ST status was withdrawn in the early 1990s.
“I am fighting the polls on two major issues, permanent residents’ certificates for the genuine non-tribals domiciled in Lekang, and ST status for the Deuri and Mishing communities,” Taku said.
Meanwhile, a survey carried out by the Association for Democratic Reforms and Arunachal Pradesh Election Watch has revealed that as many as 91 of the 152 candidates in the frary are crorepatis, who comprise more than 60 per cent of the total contestants.
This, interestingly, is a significant increase against 61 crorepatis (41 per cent) in the 2009 assembly elections — and many of them have become rich after they won the last election.