[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Sep 30: Four candidates have filed their nominations for the Oct 21 Khonsa West bye-election. All four are Independent candidates.
The scrutiny of nomination papers is slated for Oct 1 while last date for withdrawal of nomination is Oct 3.
Chakat Aboh who is the consensus candidate of BJP, Congress, NCP, PPA and JD (U) filed her nomination this morning amidst heavy security.
The other candidates are former Parliamentary Secretary Yumsen Matey, Wangchu Lowang, former Lazu Congress ZPM Azet Homtok.
Wangchu Lowang is the dummy candidate for Chakat Lowang.
The bye-election is being held following the murder of Tirong Aboh along with 10 others on May 21 while they were returning to Khonsa from Assam.
The Tirap massacre, believed to be carried out by the NSCN (IM) happened just two days before declaration of April 11 election results.
Tirong Aboh of NPP had won the election defeating Phawang Lowang of the BJP by more than 1000 votes. The total electorate of Khonsa West Legislative constituency is slightly more than 10,000 voters as of Jan 2019.
Phawang Lowang, who had sought the BJP ticket for the bye-election is not contesting.
Chakat Aboh, who returned to Khonsa from Itanagar, after a press conference, attended by all political parties and the Chief Minister Pema Khandu where she was declared the consensus candidate on Sept 28 had an emotional welcome.
Her supporters lined up the entire route leading to Aboh Niwas, in Khonsa.
Chakat Aboh wept as she was welcomed home with flowers. She later addressed a large gathering where she thanked the political parties and the Chief Minister Pema Khandu for making her the consensus candidate.
Speaking to this daily, Chakat Aboh said she is prepared for election.
Azet Homtok who was the Congress’s Lazu Anchal Block ZPM during 2009-14 said that he will decide whether to stay or withdraw from the election after consultation with the voters. All I want is peaceful election, he added.
Yumsem Matey, also from Lazu said that he is standing because there is pressure from workers to stand for the bye-election.
He said that peace is what he is looking for in the constituency. Peace is important, he said.
Matey was elected as an MLA on Congress ticket in 2009. In 2015, he switched to BJP. I have resigned from BJP, he said.
The candidatures of Matey and Homtok have come as a surprise to political parties as Chakat Aboh was declared the consensus candidates.
Insiders say that either Matey or Homtok is likely to withdraw, though both the candidates said otherwise while speaking to this daily.
It all depends who the state leadership takes this forward, said a political party worker from Khonsa West.
Even as the Chief Minister Pema Khandu is reported to be firmly in support of the Chakat Aboh, questions are being asked why the state BJP leadership did not make her the party candidate instead of endorsing her as an independent candidate.
Chakat Aboh’s supporters had sought a BJP ticket for her before she was chosen the consensus candidate.
Political parties reportedly had taken the decision to endorse her to avoid an election.
It remains to be seen whether the Khonsa West will witness a contest.
Meanwhile, preparation is underway in Tirap for a violence free election.
DEO, Tirap PN Thungon said that administration is fully prepared to conduct peaceful election.
An official source said that security has been enhanced in the entire district prior to the election and adequate police personnel have been posted. A DIG and two SPs are being sent to Khonsa to oversee security.
The state police had come under severe criticism for their failure to provide security to Tirong Aboh during and after the election. The state police, under scrutiny had said that it should not be faulted for intelligence failure.
Tirong Aboh who was under threat from NSCN (IM) had just four security personnel assigned to him when he was murdered.
[ Tongam Rina ]