Assembly Elections 2024 | BJP's victory in Arunachal Pradesh consolidates Pema Khandu's clout as the leader

The victory, according to party insiders, pushed Khandu ahead of Kiren Rijiju and Tapir Gao, two other senior BJP leaders in the state.
Last Updated : 02 June 2024, 15:22 IST
Last Updated : 02 June 2024, 15:22 IST

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Guwahati: As the CM at the age of 37 in July 2016, Pema Khandu perhaps quickly picked up the long trend in Arunachal Pradesh politics: stay with the party in power at the Centre.

Khandu, a graduate in history from the Hindu College under Delhi University, was made a minister in Nabam Tuki-led Congress government in 2011 after his father and then CM Dorjee Khandu had died in a helicopter crash. Pema's political trajectory, however, soared in 2016 after the Supreme Court's order ended a constitutional crisis, restoring Nabam Tuki-led Congress government. Khandu became the CM after Tuki resigned.

But two months later, Khandu defected to People's Party of Arunachal (PPA) in September 2016 following internal bickering in Congress and then joined BJP with 43 MLAs in December.

This catapulted Khandu's career as he assumed the office of CM again and provided BJP its first full-fledged government in the frontier state by winning the Assembly elections in 2019. Khandu has done almost the same of what Himanta Biswa Sarma and N Biren Singh did in Assam and Manipur by switching from Congress to BJP and going the extra mile to establish BJP as the main political force.

On Sunday, under Khandu's leadership, BJP registered its best ever performance by winning 46 out of 60 Assembly seats. Congress was almost wiped out as it won only in one out of 19 seats it contested.

"This is a historic mandate for us as we have got the highest number of seats," Khandu told reporters at Itanagar while identifying the development works done during the Narendra Modi government as the reason behind BJP's victory again.

"This is also a victory for Khandu's leadership. People reposed faith in the way Khandu led the party taking all on board," a BJP leader in Itanagar said. He said the victory for the second term in a row also consolidated Khandu's stature in BJP in Arunachal Pradesh, where defection has remained a long worry. "Under his leadership, no important leader quit the party. In fact, many leaders from Congress and NPP made a beeline to join BJP ahead of the polls. This led to Congress's failure to put up candidates in all 60 seats," he said. This, according to party insiders, pushed Khandu ahead of Kiren Rijiju and Tapir Gao, two other senior BJP leaders in the state. Rijiju and Gao are Lok Sabha members and are contesting the Lok Sabha polls this time too.

A Buddhist by faith, Khandu, now 44, belongs to the Monpa tribe, primarily living in Tawang, a district which shares a border with China. He was elected from Mukto Assembly constituency uncontested soon after his father's demise in 2011 and again in 2014 and this time in 2024.

Hours after the results, Khandu met Governor Lt. Gen K T Parnaik at Raj Bhawan in Itanagar and submitted his resignation as the CM. The Governor asked Khandu and his Cabinet to remain in office till a new government takes charge. Khandu-led BJP government will take oath for the third term after the Lok Sabha polls results on Tuesday.

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Published 02 June 2024, 15:22 IST

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