INTERVIEW| Indian Army sufficient to counter China, don’t need to use my Dao: Pema Khandu on ‘names’

Khandu has strongly condemned China’s attempts to rename various locations in Arunachal Pradesh

| Updated: 11 April, 2024 7:59 pm IST
Arunachal Pradesh CM Pema Khandu exclusively speaking to The New Indian

New Delhi : With only nine days remaining for the state assembly elections to 60 seats and two Lok Sabha seats in Arunachal Pradesh to be held, The New Indian team ventures through the rugged terrains of the Northeast to cover the often overlooked states.

The New Indian’s Executive Editor, Rohan Dua, engages in a candid conversation with Pema Khandu, the youngest Chief Minister in India.

Khandu has strongly condemned China’s attempts to rename various locations in Arunachal Pradesh. He highlighted the significant development and infrastructure improvements made under the BJP regime, particularly those benefiting the Indian Army. Additionally, he spoke about upcoming projects that are set to become milestones in the infrastructure development of Arunachal Pradesh. Excerpt…

Rohan Dua: I am often astonished when I talk about China. How can a country repeatedly provoke India during your tenure and even before? Yesterday, while we were touring Arunachal Pradesh, we asked every youth we met. They are certainly happy with you and also say that their villages now have 4G and 5G connectivity. But we asked them, how angry do you get when China claims they will change the names in Arunachal Pradesh? This has happened before and during your tenure as well.

Pema Khandu: This matter is handled by the Ministry of External Affairs. China’s attempt to change the names in various locations of Arunachal Pradesh is their fourth attempt, and I completely condemn it on behalf of the people of Arunachal Pradesh. China has an expansionist policy, but if you compare infrastructure development between the UPA and NDA regimes, you’ll see a stark difference. During the UPA’s time, Arunachal Pradesh was totally neglected; there were no roads in the border areas, no proper facilities for the army. But now, under the NDA, if you travel to the border areas, the roads are good, and we have provided excellent facilities to our armed forces. This is the new India.

Rohan Dua: When I think about places like Pasighat and Ziro, there are motorable roads, but when we discuss the Sela Tunnel, a 13,000 ft. tunnel with an expenditure of 850 crore, which the PM inaugurated and you were present, what message does it send to China? Or is this a message for the people of Delhi who travel to Ladakh?

Pema Khandu: This message is for everyone, and it’s a message of development. It’s to show our strength. Recently, the PM inaugurated two tunnels located at 30,000 ft. in Taiwan. Two more tunnels will be inaugurated by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. So, very innovative projects are coming to Arunachal Pradesh, especially in the northern Arunachal Pradesh frontier highway, a 2500 km highway. The Indian government has approved this project, which will be made in the northern belt and villages. This will benefit the villages and is also important for the armed forces to move easily.

Rohan Dua: There are big billboards – I saw a Miss Arunachal Pradesh pageant advertised. Will there be PVR and INOX cinemas here? Our youth is working hard.

Pema Khandu: There are many good franchises, and in the coming times, we will bring well-known brands here.

Rohan Dua: Is there any focus on wildlife conservation, like koalas and tigers, to promote tourism and protect animals so that people from Delhi, Mumbai, and other places can visit and travel here safely?

Pema Khandu: Arunachal Pradesh is known for its forest diversity. We have 80% forest cover, national parks, and tiger reserves as well. With the Indian government, we are trying to preserve the wildlife.

Rohan Dua: You are one of the most prominent candidates for the CM of this election, but when I look at your assets, you are very humble and kind, an alumnus of Hindu College. Do you miss your college?

Pema Khandu: I have received a lot of blessings from my college. Our college’s student association is very active. Whenever I get time, I meet my colleagues and alumni.

Rohan Dua: One more question, will you attack China with a Dao, or will you leave it to the Indian Army?

Pema Khandu: Indian army ka Bandook hi kaafi hai – (The Indian Army’s guns are sufficient).

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