Arunachal Pradesh

The monk who is taking on Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister

Lama Lobsang Gyatso, a 39-year-old monk at the forefront of a movement against mega dams in Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, will contest the Mukto Assembly seat against Chief Minister Pema Khandu. This will be the first time the constituency is witnessing a contest since 2004.

Elections to the 60 Assembly seats and two Lok Sabha seats in Arunachal Pradesh will be held on April 11.

Mr. Khandu, heading a BJP government since December 2016, was one of 16 Congress contestants who were elected unopposed in 2014. He had no rival even in the 2011 byelection to the Mukto seat in Tawang district. The death of his father and former Chief Minister, Dorjee Khandu, in a helicopter crash in April 2011 had necessitated the byelection. The senior Khandu too had won the Mukto seat uncontested — in 1990, his first, and in 2004 and 2009.

“I will contest as an independent if no party gives me ticket for the Mukto seat. Fighting the powerful dam lobby is tough, and I think resisting them requires the authority of a lawmaker that spiritualism and activism cannot ensure,” Mr. Gyatso told The Hindu on Tuesday.

The Chief Minister, like his father, favours tapping the Himalayan rivers of Arunachal Pradesh for hydel projects.

“Our State has huge hydro-power potential but getting clearance for projects is a major hindrance. The issue must be discussed to sort out such hindrances,” he had told industry captains at an event last year.

Dorjee Khandu had scripted the State’s hydro-power policy in 2007, which entailed charging upfront money from dam developers per megawatt of installed capacity. Between 2007 and 2015, the State government signed agreements with public sector and private players for 142 hydro-power projects ranging in capacity from 4.5 MW to 4,000 MW.

This policy was in line with former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s plan to add 50,000 MW of hydro-power in India by 2017. Arunachal Pradesh accounted for most of the projects envisaged.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 1:33:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/arunachal-pradesh-assembly/the-monk-who-is-taking-on-arunachal-pradesh-chief-minister/article26536510.ece

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