INTERVIEW| Manmohan govt took bribe to release North East funds: Arunachal Pradesh CM

Khandu reveals reasons behind his departure to take along 42 Congress MLAs to join the BJP, and allegations regarding the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government’s mismanagement of funds allocated for North East projects. Excerpts

| Updated: 11 April, 2024 3:31 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 reveals reasons behind his departure to take along 42 Congress MLAs to join the BJP, and allegations regarding the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government’s mismanagement of funds allocated for North East projects. Excerpts

Rohan Dua : What makes Pema Khandu one of the most favored Chief Ministers of the Northeast? How proud do you feel with only 10 days left for the election in your state? How much nervousness and excitement do you feel, especially when your prominent leaders like Rajnath Singh and JP Nadda come to release the manifesto? You were the youngest Chief Minister and now you are campaigning with senior leaders.

Prema Khandu: First of all, I want to thank you. The election fervor is here, and although none of the national media is present, your team is here to cover Arunachal Pradesh. Since 2014, after PM Modi became Prime Minister, the NorthEast has seen a drastic change. In the past, the Northeast was known for all negative things, like insurgency, underdevelopment, and corruption. BJP has changed this narrative. Arunachal Pradesh is a difficult terrain and I always speak about it. Bringing development here is very challenging. After PM Modi took charge, the Northeast and Arunachal have received a lot of focus. BJP believes in quality and performance. And we are very confident – we got 10 seats unopposed and for the other 50, we will win all 50. Because people know we are performing well.

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Rohan Dua : Whenever I have met you, whether it be at the Delhi’s Arunachal Bhavan or Varanasi during campaigns, I have always had this curiosity. In 2016, many senior leaders left Congress and joined BJP, and you this complete revolt, bringing 42 leaders to the People’s Party of Arunachal and then to the BJP. What compels such prominent leaders like Himanta, Jyotiraditya Scindia, and Captain Amarinder Singh, including Jitin Prasada, to leave Congress? You all come from the very rank and file of the Congress party. How difficult is it to leave Congress?

Pema Khandu: I’m not very old in politics. I entered active politics in 2011 as an MLA. I came into state politics as an MLA and was then given the MLA post. During the Congress rule, the work that happened in the state – the Congress leaders sitting in Delhi were fostering corruption practices. In Delhi, people would demand money for any scheme to be applied in the state. I was a sitting minister. I resigned and then left Congress. There’s a world of difference between BJP and Congress. Congress ruled the country for 60 years. If we look at the political history of the North East during the 60 years, every state had a Congress government. Congress made the leaders of the Northeast corrupt, made the public corrupt, and involved the bureaucrats in corrupt practices. In the BJP regime, there is no corruption; everyone is looking forward to development.

Rohan Dua : Weren’t you surprised that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who came from Assam, became the Prime Minister from your Northeast state and yet you had to beg in front of them for your state schemes?

Pema Khandu: As for Manmohan Singh’s leadership, we all know that someone else was calling the shots at that time.

Rohan Dua: How proud do you feel after seeing such development in your state?

Pema Khandu : Travel anywhere in Arunachal Pradesh and you will see the signs of development. Railways have reached here, and we have built airports. We have also established tribal administrative divisions and new districts.

We created more districts because Arunachal Pradesh is the largest state in the Northeast in terms of landmass. Additionally, if you look at remote areas where there was no network, now 4G and 5G connectivity has reached. We share the largest border with Tibet, China, and here we have launched the Vibrant Village Program through Amit Shah. There has been considerable development under the BJP regime.

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