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Assembly polls: Tuki to win unopposed as Congress set to grab 11 seats

ITANAGAR: BJP is likely to have its work cut out for the April 9 assembly elections in Arunachal, with the ruling Congress all set to gain 11 out of 60 seats unopposed. Chief minister Nabam Tuki has won the Sagalee assembly constituency after his only rival Nabam Tade withdrew his nomination on Wednesday, the last date for withdrawals.

Claiming that Tade's signature had been forged in the withdrawal papers, BJP has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, said state chief electoral officer Chandra Bhusan Kumar. He added that the complaint had been forwarded to the commission for further action.

"It is a total sabotage of democracy. Most of our candidates were intimidated and threatened by Congress leaders, creating a situation hitherto unseen in Indian democracy. This is nothing but a political coup and voters in the uncontested seats have been denied their right to vote," state BJP president Tai Tagak said.

Former health and family welfare minister Atun Welly, who joined BJP and filed his nomination papers recently after being denied a Congress ticket from the Pakke-Kessang constituency, withdrew his nomination under 'mysterious circumstances' and cleared the deck for Congress nominee and former deputy chief minister Kameng Dolo to win unopposed, said BJP sources.

Other Congress candidates who stand to win their seats unopposed include sitting rural development minister Tanga Byaling (Nacho), tourism minister Pema Khandu (Mukto), parliamentary secretary Nabam Rebia (Doimukh), former minister Lombo Tayeng (Mebo), sitting MLAs Phurpa Tsering (Dirang), Punji Mara (Taliha), Bamang Felix (Nyapin), Takam Pario (Palin) and first-timer Mama Natung from Seppa West.

"A landslide victory for Congress in the assembly polls is a forgone conclusion," said APCC president Mukut Mithi, congratulating the winners. His views were echoed by Sagalee zila parishad member Nabam Yakum, who said, "Massive development in the state, especially in Sagalee, led to so many candidates winning unopposed. The numerous policies of the Tuki-led government will benefit one and all in future."

Meanwhile, the state chief electoral officer said the poll expenditure is likely to decrease with minimum deployment of men and material in the uncontested constituencies. Interestingly, 10 of the 11 uncontested seats fall under Arunachal West parliamentary constituency. Only one seat, Mebo, falls under Arunachal East.

With the last date for the withdrawal of nominations over, 155 candidates, including 49 from Congress, 42 from BJP, 9 from NCP, 16 from PPA, 11 from NPF, one from AAP and 16 independents remain in the fray for election to 49 of 60 assembly seats. In contrast, none of the 11 Lok Sabha candidates in the state have withdrawn their nominations. There are eight Lok Sabha nominees vying for Arunachal West, and three for Arunachal East.