[ Amar Sangno ]
ITANAGAR, Jan 13: Three names are emerging as the frontrunners in the race for the state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president’s post as the saffron party’s high command is reportedly preparing to take a final call in the matter.
Incumbent president Tapir Gao, former party president Tai Tagak, and party loyalist and Pakke-Kessang MLA Biyuram Wahge’s names are reportedly at the top.
Initially, 11 contenders’ names had been doing the rounds, including those of the party’s state executive vice-president Tame Phassang, Itanagar MLA contestant Kipa Babu, state BJP vice-president Dominic Tadar, former ministers Tamiyo Taga, Talo Mugli and RK Khrimey, former Daporijo MLA Tapen Siga, and Likabali MLA contestant Tapak Lendo.
Sources close to the party informed The Arunachal Times that Wahge is ahead of Gao and Tagak for the party’s top post in the state. Wahge’s name is surfacing in the wake of a series of meetings among the party’s top leaders, under the leadership of BJP president Amit Shah, regarding a suitable successor to Gao. It is said that the decision is likely to be made by 18 January.
“I have expressed my willingness to serve the president. Now it’s upto the party high command,” Wahge told this daily. “I am a BJP soldier for decades. I will be serving my party in whatever position,” he said.
Wahge, Tagak and Gao are eligible as per the party’s constitution, which states that in order to be party president one has to have completed 10 years as a BJP functionary. This means that Phassang and Babu, whose names were earlier among those of the frontrunners, have failed to meet the criterion.
Though current president Gao has repeatedly stated that he is not in the race, his name is among the frontrunners.
“I am not in the race. However, if the party assigns me the job again, I would be happy to serve,” said Gao.
If the party doesn’t assign the post to Wahge, who is one of the senior most leaders in terms of his association with the party, former president Tagak might be given the charge again. It was under his leadership that the state BJP toppled the Congress and formed the government in Arunachal.
Senior party member and former minister Roding Pertin, who has been given the charge of overseeing the party’s election process as its state returning officer, had issued a notification on 12 January, asking interested candidates to fill up the forms for the state president’s post. However, the party’s high command reportedly asked him to cancel the notification, which he subsequently did.
Pertin did not respond this daily’s query in the matter.
BJP national secretary Mahesh Giri and former Punjab BJP vice-president Avinash Rai Khanna had visited the state and met the party’s core committee on 23 December last year.
The core committee is headed by Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Gao, and also comprises former party presidents like Tai Tagak, Tamiyo Taga, Tangor Tapak and Tapen Siga.