In an exclusive interview with EastMojo, Pema Khandu -- who just took oath of office as the CM for the second term -- talks about new ideas for the state and the way forward
Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Your party has secured 40-plus seats in Arunachal Pradesh Assembly election 2019. As the new chief minister of state, what are the new ideas that you are thinking for Arunachal Pradesh?
This year, for 2019 election, people have voted for change not only in Arunachal but in the entire North East [India] as a whole. Northeast has been deprived for many years, for very long due to misrule by the Centre. Northeast has been neglected quite often. But when Narendra Modi ji came as Prime Minister in 2014, things totally changed in Northeast. Politically, if you can have an assessment prior to 2014, most of the states in Northeast were ruled by Congress. But if you see after 2014 or 2015 or 2016, in the entire eight states of Northeast, Congress is nowhere now. People in Northeast -- they want to develop, people in Northeast -- they have the capabilities, and states of Northeast have the potential.
Likewise, in my two-and-a-half years’ tenure, I have done a lot with the blessings and guidance from the Centre under the dynamic leadership of Narendra Modi ji. So Arunachal, of course, is a very difficult state and one of the most difficult terrains in the entire country. Simultaneously, we have here, as I have said before, huge potential. If you talk about tourism, agriculture and hydropower -- you talk about anything -- so we have huge potential.
What people want is that the government should be transparent. It should be like pro-people. It should be like sabka saath sabka vikas and that is the ideology you know we taking forward to the people. In the past two-and-a-half years’ tenure, people have accepted the way Bharatiya Janata Party has been performing in the state.
As I have mentioned before, Arunachal Pradesh has a difficult terrain, it’s a very difficult state. To bring infrastructural development to places like Tawang, Anini, Mechuka or Daporijo, it is very difficult and quite mountainous. It is tough. So, side by side, unemployment is also a big challenge here. So, I have full confidence on Narendra Modi ji in coming days. In terms of infrastructure, Modi ji will support Arunachal Pradesh.
This time, I am going to bring in private sector investment as well as public sector investment. Government alone cannot give employment to unemployed youth. To overcome the issue of unemployment, we need to have private and public sector investment here. This investment will be my major focus in the coming days.
In the last five years, we also saw a movement in Arunachal Pradesh on Permanent Resident Certificate and issues related to security also, like the unfortunate Tirap incident. What steps are you planning to take around those issues?
These are the two very unfortunate incidents that occurred recently. The PRC issue which happened right before the elections was really unfortunate and that was totally politicised by the Congress party. If you can see my tweets or on my social media, I have already given that [the anti- PRC movement] was entirely misled by Congress party.
In fact, in the PRC matter, whatever the joint high-powered committee has recommended, our government was of the opinion that it should go to the Assembly for further discussions. This was never meant for passing. It was neither a government bill nor a resolution, it was supposed to be placed before the state assembly for wider discussion so that public knows what the Joint High Powered committee has recommended.
Unfortunately, Congress has misled the situation and they said that BJP and Pema Khandu government is going to give PRC to all the non-tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh residing in Arunachal Pradesh. That was very wrong. That is why there was an emotional outburst. So prior to placing the matter in the Assembly, the night itself I have given in my tweet and my social media group that public has some misconception regarding the PRC matter. So in the Assembly, I did not take the matter forward.
So that means the matter should have ended there. After I gave the message on my social media, whatever that has happened, the lawlessness, it has happened after that itself. That means you know the election was so near Congress was targeting to make a law and order problem and to impose President’s rule and then go for election. That was a very wrong move done by these people and unfortunately in that incident, three youths of our state lost their lives.
And if you talk about the recent happening in Tirap area, one of the sitting MLAs and one of the candidates of the NPP party, for which votes happened on April 11 itself and we were just waiting for the counting only and few days ago unfortunate news came, I was totally shocked. This incident should not have happened.
As you know, the eastern part, especially Tirap, Changlang and Longding, has been affected by insurgency long time ago due to some local issues which led to the death of 11 persons. I am really shocked. After formation of the government, I will make sure that the families will be given justice. Those who have done this act, I will talk to the Centre also, hard action will be taken against all those people.
Coming to the Tawang area, in your constituency Mukto, you were elected unopposed. There was now a candidate contesting against you. What changed? How come there is a candidate contesting from the constituency?
I myself is contesting for the first time from the Mukto seat in my political career. This is my third time including 2019 tenure I have represented this seat. Prior to this, two times I have been elected unopposed. What I find in my constituency is that getting elected unopposed is very good. It’s like a candidate getting unopposed is a proud moment for him.
But I had already got elected twice, uncontested. But if you see the history of my three, Jang-Mukto constituency the seat has remained an uncontested one for the last 20 years. The last contest which happened was during my father’s tenure during 1999. After 1999, there was no election till now. So that’s why I myself have appealed to the people, that we are living in a democratic system in which ruling should be there and opposition should be there too.
If opposition is strong, then ruling party can perform well. This is the ethics and ethos of a democratic setup. We need opposition as well. That is why I have requested it is nothing like you are afraid of something. It is not a kinship kind of thing that only man can always rule. I told them that whatever is in democratic set up, whoever is not favouring me or the policies of the Bharatiya Janata Party, they should oppose me and oppose the party as well. We can make progress in the constituency together. So I myself have appealed to the people that opposition should be there.
(Note: This interview was conducted on election results day on May 23)