Lok Sabha Election

A tough fight awaits Kiren Rijiju in Arunachal West

Kiren Rijiju, MoS Home, at Parliament during Monsoon session, at Parliament House in New Delhi on August 01, 2018.
Photo: Sandeep Saxena

Kiren Rijiju, MoS Home, at Parliament during Monsoon session, at Parliament House in New Delhi on August 01, 2018. Photo: Sandeep Saxena

A tough fight awaits Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju on his home turf — the Arunachal West constituency. The National People’s Party (NPP), a member of an anti-Congress forum helmed by the BJP, has put up Khyoda Apik as its candidate opposite Mr. Rijiju, 47. The Union Minister also has to contend with 54-year-old Congress candidate Nabam Tuki, who was ousted as Chief Minister three years ago, and Janata Dal (Secular) candidate Jarjum Ete. Ms. Ete, 56, is the first woman candidate fielded by any party for a Lok Sabha seat in Arunachal Pradesh. Locals believe Ms. Ete, by virtue of her campaigns against child marriage and polygamy, enjoys popularity among women voters, who outnumber men in Arunachal Pradesh. Of the 7,94,162 voters in the State, 4,01,601 are women.

But Mr. Rijiju does not believe anyone other than Mr. Tuki has the potential to give him a tough fight. “My fight with him is on political grounds, not anything personal,” he said.

Citizenship Bill

For Mr. Tuki, there seems to be a thin line between political and personal grounds. “The people will not forget the BJP for sabotaging the democratically-elected Congress government to forcibly plant the saffron flag. The BJP also let the State’s tribal people down by pursuing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” he said.

The Bill seeks to hasten the process of granting citizenship to non-Muslims who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

Mr. Rijiju has insisted that the BJP would keep the northeast out of the purview of the Bill if implemented elsewhere in the country.

He has also resented a bid to give the contest in Arunachal West a religious colour. While the Arunachal Pradesh Catholic Association has appealed to the people to “pray for” Mr. Tuki, the Arunachal Pradesh Christian Revival Church has urged voters to support Mr. Khyoda Apik of the NPP.

Among Mr. Rijiju’s rivals is Jyomin Kara Apik, the first-ever candidate in Arunachal Pradesh to be fielded by a Left Front constituent. Thirty-eight-year-old Mr. Jyomin Apik is the candidate of the All India Forward Bloc, which Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose formed in 1939 after breaking away from the Congress.

“The respect people have for Netaji should help me. I am here to end the cash-for-votes tradition in the State’s electoral politics,” Mr. Jyomin said.

Seven candidates are vying for the Arunachal West seat and five for Arunachal East.

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Printable version | Aug 17, 2022 10:04:00 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/a-tough-fight-awaits-kiren-rijiju-in-arunachal-west/article26763522.ece