Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu will contest the April 11 assembly elections from Mukto, his home constituency in Tawang district, bordering China. Since the 2004 assembly elections, the Mukto seat has a history of MLAs being elected without a contest.
Khandu, heading a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government since December 2016, was elected unopposed from the constituency in 2014 and had no rival in the 2011 by-election as well. The death of his father and former chief minister Dorjee Khandu in a helicopter crash in April 2011 had necessitated the by-poll.
The BJP on Sunday declared the names of candidates for 54 seats in the 60-member state Assembly. Among the candidates, few are first timers while the names of several ministers, including Arunachal Pradesh Home Minister Kumar Waii and Tourism Minister Jarkar Gamlin, and that of many sitting MLAs were dropped.
Waii and Gamlin represent Bameng and Alo East seats respectively in the outgoing House. Sitting MLAs who were denied party tickets this time include Tapuk Taku (Seppa East), Pani Taram (Koloriang), Punji Mara (Taliha), Dikto Yekar (Daporijo), Kardo Nyigyor (Likabali), Lombo Tayeng (Mebo), C T Mein (Chowkham), Wanglin Lowangdong (Borduria-Bogapani) and Thangwang Wangham from Longding-Pumao assembly constituency.
Deputy chief minister Chowna Mein has been fielded from Chowkham constituency instead of Lekang which, he has been representing for the five consecutive terms since 1995, due to the recent state-wide protest over the permanent residence certificate (PRC) issue in the state. The Lekang constituency has over 70 per cent non-tribal voters who are demanding grant of PRCs.
The BJP came to power in the Himalayan state after a majority of Congress MLAs deserted the party to ally with it and later joined it. The simultaneous polls to two Lok Sabha seats and 60 assembly constituencies in the state will be held on April 11.
(With inputs from agencies.)