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Arunachal Pradesh

Geographic isolation, historical misfortune and deliberate choice combine to make the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh India's most isolated and among it least developed. As home to 26 major tribal groups, Arunachal is something of an anthropologist's dream, but a political and developmental nightmare. As it comes in contact with the outside world, Arunachal tribal society is showing signs of confusion.

Rampant corruption is a significant impediment to effectively managing the state's development. The Chief Ministers have maintained support and party loyalty by using public project funds to distribute to Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) for their votes. The authorities of the Public Distribution System (PDS) for basic food staples intended for the state's poor made millions of dollars along with state Youth Congress President Likha Saya, a contractor appointed to distribute food in remote areas. Rations were diverted and sold on the black market.

By 2005, Gegong Apang had been Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh for 20 of the past 24 years. A member of the Adi tribe, he had been able to rally support across the state, usually under the banner of the Congress Party. However, it is clear that his political weathervane is driven solely and exclusively by his calculation of what party in New Delhi can provide the most benefits to his state. This explains his sudden conversion to the BJP in August 2003 and it also explains his return to the Congress fold under the current Congress-led coalition. The voters of the state appeared to be similarly motivated, electing -- for the first time -- nine BJP Members of Legislative Assembly (out of 60 total) in the 2004 elections when the BJP was seen as frontrunners to return to power at the Center.

On 09 April 2007, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang was replaced by his Power Minister Dorjee Khandu. Dissident legislators in the state Congress Party compelled the Congress Party national leadership, already unhappy with Apang's rule, to effect the change. This ended a 10-day political crisis, caused by complaints from ruling state Congress legislators. Apang, due to his autocratic style of governance, lost the confidence of his legislators and 29 of 33 Congress representatives in the 60-member Assembly lobbied Congress Party leadership in Delhi for a change and pushed for Khandu to be appointed Chief Minister.

Khandu's supporters alleged that Apang's rule was autocratic, that he seldom consulted them on government decisions, and that they were disillusioned over Apang's distribution of cabinet portfolios. Moreover, Congress leadership in Delhi was unhappy with Apang's individual deal-making in defiance of their wishes. Khandu did not have the political stature of Apang and may not be supported by all of Arunachal Pradesh's 25 tribes.

Khandu became the Chief Minister on 16 July 2016, replacing Nabam Tuki, who in turn had replaced Kalikho Pul after the Supreme Court reinstated the Tuki government. In July 2016, Khandu and his group of Congress rebels deserted the Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA), a part of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a BJP-led front, and returned to the Congress to form the government. On 16 September 2016, Chief Minister Pema Khandu and 43 of the 44 Congress MLAs, re-joined the PPA.

Government spokesperson Pasang D. Sona said the Centre and the State need to be in tandem. and that the decision was fuelled by regional aspirations of the people. We felt that a regional identity is needed right now to fulfil the aspirations of the people, he said. Khandu said while his party will be with the BJP in NEDA, he ruled out the possibility of the saffron party coming to power in the state.

The BJP on 24 December 2017 wrested both the Pakke-Kessang and Likabali Assembly seats from the Congress in the bypolls to these constituencies in Arunachal Pradesh. With this, the 60-member State Assembly had 49 MLAs from the saffron party, nine from the Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA), one Congress and one Independent legislator.



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