In politically-unstable Arunachal Pradesh, where party-hopping by legislators is common, former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki stands out as he has been loyal to the Congress all along.
Not surprisingly, the Congress leadership is fielding him in Parliamentary as well as Assembly elections from West Arunachal and Sagalee seats respectively.
Tuki tells Prasanta Mazumdar why the people of Arunachal will reject the ruling BJP in the upcoming polls.
Why are you contesting in both Parliamentary and Assembly elections?
The party leadership, as well as people, wanted me to contest LS elections as my performance is good. I am contesting the Assembly polls as desired by my constituency people.
You are among the few Congress stalwarts who have remained loyal to the party. Is it because of your loyalty that Congress decided to field you?
I always stand by my principles. After I joined the Congress, I accepted its ideology and policies. Congress is a secular democratic party where everyone can stay and work. Over the years, I’ve seen many colleagues switching parties. I could have done that, but didn’t as I love the Congress. The people of Arunachal are happy that the party has fielded me in both polls.
Have you got the pulse of the people in this election?
There’s an anti-BJP movement. People are fed up as the BJP government has not delivered on its promises. People feel insecure because of poor governance. What’s your view on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which the NDA sought to pass to grant Indian citizenship to immigrants belonging to six “persecuted” non-Muslim communities?
Arunachalis are against the government because of the BJP’s wrong decision on the Bill. It is against the tribals.
How do you view the BJP government’s bid to grant permanent residence certificates (PRCs) to six non-tribal communities?
It’s a long-pending issue which was examined by past governments. The people of the six communities are, of course, Indian citizens and being given all facilities except PRC. They can participate in panchayats and get appointed as village chiefs. However, they cannot get PRC because of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act. Arunachal’s land is protected by this law. To get PRC, they must have land rights but they cannot have that. The BJP government tried to give them PRC without knowing the realities. The move triggered protests by the people.
All MLAs in the BJP were elected on Congress tickets in 2014. Do you think they’ll get support this time?
I think people will teach them a lesson. The Arunachal government is not a democratically-elected one. BJP MLAs jumped from the Congress to People’s Party of Arunachal and then to BJP. And now, some of them are going to another political party, NPP. People remember this and will not forgive them.