A military intelligence man who participated in the 1971 Bangladesh war, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu had worked his way up as a local politician helping set up schools and organising drinking water supplies in far-flung areas of the mountainous State.
Mr. Khandu, who became the Chief Minister twice, was with the Indian Army’s intelligence wing for seven years and received a gold medal for rendering meritorious services during the India-Pakistan war that led to the creation of Bangladesh.
Becoming an Anchal Samiti member in 1980, he turned his focus to social work in far-flung villages. He helped arranging drinking water supplies, electricity and communication and also setting up schools in remote areas of Tawang, his home district. Due to his efforts, cultural and cooperative societies were established in Tawang.
This helped him consolidate his standing among the masses when he replaced Gegong Apang as Chief Minister of the State in 2007.
He led a cultural troupe to the 1982 ASIAD in Delhi from Tawang which won a silver medal.
Born on March 3, 1955 in Gyangkhar village in Tawang district, Mr. Khandu belonged to Monpa tribe and was a Buddhist with little formal education. He is survived by four wives, four sons and two daughters.
His political innings started in 1983 when he was elected uncontested as the district vice-president of the West Kameng District Zilla Parishad and worked in that capacity till 1987.
In March 1990, he was elected uncontested to the Legislative Assembly from the Mukto constituency.
Mr. Khandu was re-elected to the Assembly in March, 1995 from the same constituency and was given the portfolio of Minister of State for Cooperation.
On September 21, 1996, he was elevated to Cabinet rank and given Animal Husbandry & Veterinary, Dairy Development department
In 1999, he was elected to the third Assembly of the State and served as the Power minister from 1998 to 2006.
He also served as Minister for Mines and held the portfolio of Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation and Disaster Management.
Mr. Khandu revolted against Mr. Apang in 2007. When the Congress high command first refused to accept Mr. Khandu as a replacement for Mr. Apang as Chief Minister, he went to New Delhi with most party legislators and stayed put for 10 days till the AICC leaders relented.
After taking over as the Chief Minister on April 9, 2007, he promised to reopen the state-owned APEX Cooperative bank having 32 branches across the State lying defunct for two years after an over Rs. 200 crore loan scam was unearthed.
Within few weeks, Mr. Khandu secured a loan of Rs. 225 crore from PSU power major NHPC and invested it into the bank, enabling it to reopen, much to the relief of lakhs of depositors who were mostly poor locals.
His popularity grew further when he forced the Centre to open the FIC regional head office in Itanagar and godowns deep inside the State to check pilferage of PDS commodities.
In 2009, he was again elected unopposed to the Assembly and became the Chief Minister for second time on October 25, 2009.
The Rs. 24,000-crore special package announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Itanagar on January 31 last year made Mr. Khandu’s popularity soar even further.