BJP battling hard to retain both Arunachal seats

March 31st, 2009 - 12:29 pm ICT by IANS  

By Syed Zarir Hussain
Itanagar, March 31 (IANS) The battle lines for elections to the two parliamentary seats in Arunachal Pradesh are drawn with the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) trying its best to retain both seats, while the Congress party puts up a tough challenge.

The firebrand 38-year-old sitting BJP MP Kiren Rijiju is facing a stiff fight in the Arunachal (West) parliamentary seat from former education minister and student leader Takam Sanjay.

The usually vocal and articulate Rijiju, chosen the Best Young Parliamentarian by India Today magazine, says: “I don’t believe in money and muscle power in elections and I don’t have that. All I am banking on is the goodwill of the people and their conscience votes.”

Described as the “voice of the Northeast” by former Lok Sabha speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, Rijiju initiated 91 debates in parliament last year and promises to speak on behalf of the region.

“My topmost priority would be to develop the state economically and ensure better wages for the state government employees besides working for the overall prosperity of the whole of the northeast,” Rijiju told IANS.

His main opponent Sanjay is equally vocal and influential.

A former president of the powerful All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union, Sanjay, 45, went on to become the education minister before getting the party’s nod to contest the parliamentary elections.

“The UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government at the centre in collaboration with the state government brought about rapid development, especially after we got a Rs.240 billion package from the prime minister,” Sanjay said.

Elections to the two parliamentary seats of Arunachal (West) and Arunachal (East) are scheduled April 16.

In the Arunachal (East) parliamentary seat, sitting BJP MP Tapir Gao is facing stiff opposition from Congress candidate Ninong Ering.

“I am confident of retaining the seat once again, but I am not taking the challenge lightly,” Gao told IANS.

The issues in the two seats remain the same - development, healthcare, education, roads and other infrastructure, besides jobs.

“There are still many places from which you have to trek 10 to 15 days to reach the nearest town,” said A. Loya, a college student.

“These are issues that we want to be resolved so that people can really trust the representatives,” said tribal youth T. Singpho.

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