Thursday, April 25, 2024

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju seeks reelection from erstwhile Congress bastion in Arunachal


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Itanagar, March 23:  Union Minister for Earth Sciences and BJP candidate Kiren Rijiju is seeking reelection for fourth term from Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency — once a Congress stronghold — while his opponent and former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki as a Congress nominee is fighting to regain the lost ground of the party.

The Congress, which governed the bordering northeastern state for many years, won the Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat six times.

In 2019 too, Tuki, who is also the state Congress President, was fielded from the Arunachal West, but fought the election reluctantly, putting more efforts into retaining the Sagalee Assembly seat in the Assembly election, held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls.

Six time MLA, 60-year-old Congress leader Tuki has been the sitting MLA from the Sagalee constituency in the Papumpare district since 1991.

Rijiju, BJP’s one of the prominent leaders in the northeastern region, began his political career in 1999, when he was elected to the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the Dibang Valley constituency.

He was first elected to the 14th Lok Sabha from the Arunachal West parliamentary constituency in 2004 but he lost the electoral battle in 2009 to Congress candidate Takam Sanjoy.

The 53-year old leader was re-elected to the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014 and was inducted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi into the Council of Ministers as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs.

A member of the Nyishi tribe, Rijiju, a passionate advocate of greater integration of the northeast region with the national mainstream, was again reelected in the 17th Lok Sabha in 2019 from the same Arunachal West constituency and was appointed as the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports and Minister of State for Minority Affairs.

In July 2021, he became the Cabinet Minister of Law and Justice in the second Modi ministry after cabinet reshuffle.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rijiju, who received 169,367 votes, registered a victory defeating Takam Sanjoy of the Congress by a margin of 41,738 votes.

In the 2019 elections, he won the seat for the third time including second consecutive time and secured 204,553 votes.

He defeated Congress candidate Nabam Tuki by a margin of 1,74,843 votes.

Expressing his strong confidence of winning fourth term from Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency, Rijiju dismissed notions of an anti-incumbency wave against him in the seat.

“There is no anti-incumbency factor here. In electoral politics, some people and organisations oppose a certain person and party and some people will support. If some are opposing out of political mindset this is not called anti-incumbency. In the last elections (2019) also, some people highlighted the anti-incumbency issues against me but my vote margin increased to a large extent,” he pointed out.

Congress candidate Tuki, who lost the Arunachal West seat to Rijiju in 2019, is also confident of his victory this time, citing a mounting desire for change among the people.

He said: “Voters are adamant this time for a change as both Rijiju and his double-engine governments failed to deliver the goods. The Union Minister is facing a strong anti-incumbency wave this time.”

“Employment generation, empowerment of people especially the women and increasing the livelihood scopes of the people are my focus this time,” the Congress veteran said.

Apart from the BJP and Congress, the Arunachal Congress, a local party, has also had an influence in the Arunachal West Lok Sabha seat, which covers the entire Tawang, West Kameng, East Kameng, Papum Pare, Lower Subansiri, Kurung Kumey, Upper Subansiri and West Siang districts.

The Arunachal West Lok Sabha constituency consists of 33 legislative Assembly seats out of the total of 60 Assembly segments in the state.

The Arunachal West parliamentary constituency has traditionally been a stronghold of the Congress, but in recent years, the BJP has made significant inroads in the seat, leading to a shift in the political landscape.

Apart from its political significance, Arunachal West parliamentary seat is also known for its diverse culture and heritage.

The region is home to several indigenous tribes, each with its own unique traditions and customs.

The total number of voters in Arunachal West is 5,14,771, of which around 50 per cent are female voters.

Elections to the two Lok Sabha seats – Arunachal West and Arunachal East — and the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh Assembly will be held simultaneously on April 19.

Counting of votes for the Assembly polls would be held on June 2 and for the Lok Sabha on June 4.



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