ITANAGAR, Aug 13: Former chief minister Gegong Apang has expressed displeasure that “some political quarters” have accused him of being instrumental in the creation of the Mon Autonomous Region Demand Committee (MARDC) and the Patkai Autonomous District Council (PADC).
In a press statement, Apang on Thursday said, “Certain political quarters, particularly Chief Minister Pema Khandu, are accusing me as if I was instrumental in the creation of the MARDC and the PADC. I would request the CM to stop the habit of mudslinging and try to develop broadmindedness, so that our state will reach to its golden height.”
The former CM termed the demand for a Mon autonomous region uncalled for.
“During this Covid-19 pandemic, when the whole world is suffering and fighting for survival, no sensible person will ever appreciate CM Pema Khandu for taking up this issue during this critical juncture,” Apang said.
He said the issue of autonomy surfaced during his tenure as the CM and had been advocated by leaders of Tawang, West Kameng, Tirap and Changlang districts.
“I have never appreciated this memorandum. It was purely a political tactic to pressurize me unnecessarily. But the forces of eastern and western most parts of the state, with certain political motives to gain, pressurized me. I always knew that the government of India will never agree to their illogical and irrelevant demands.
“Layman people like us should not underestimate the government of India as it has got its own ears and eyes on each and every part of India and has strict vigilance. The government of India has got at least seventh sense for cases like this. Even in our time, the fund allocations for development plans were very meagre, and even then funds were distributed judiciously to every district, ensuring that it was being percolated down to the grassroots level,” Apang said.
He said that the tribes of every district were given rights and opportunities without any discrimination during his tenure.
“Cabinet ministers, minister of state, deputy minister were divided equally in free and fair manner with one minister from every tribe of the state. No disparity was created and such actions and demands even during that time were totally uncalled for,” he said.
On the issue of the MARDC and the PADC, Apang said, “People of Tawang and West Kameng are not at all backward in many aspects. Even till date, they are far more developed than many other tribes of the state. Even the people of Tirap, Changlang and Longding are far more developed than most of the state’s tribes. I could not see any particular neglected and marginalized tribe in Arunachal Pradesh. All tribes are equal almost in all aspects. I could not find any reason for their psychological suffering. It was only to make some political gain by certain political quarters. I was not convinced myself even during my time as CM for such political threat. Therefore, I did not support their unnecessary cause wholeheartedly.”
Recalling the time when Rajiv Gandhi was serving as the prime minister, Apang said that, after Mizoram was granted statehood by the Centre, “our cabinets also went to New Delhi and approached late Rajiv Gandhi for granting of statehood to Arunachal, along with Goa and Mizoram.
“We were assured by the central government that Arunachal would be granted statehood, but unfortunately, we read in the newspapers that Arunachal’s governor was given special responsibility in terms of law and order problems, perhaps due to its close proximity to China. Also, Article 371 (H) was given to Arunachal Pradesh, which means that all the natural resources were in the hands of the central government, unlike Mizoram and Nagaland.
“Had our state been granted or extended to 6th Schedule, such demands for autonomous councils would not have come up,” he said.
Apang said that Khandu was unnecessarily taking up the Mon and the Patkai autonomous council demands instead of appealing to the central government for abrogation of Article 371 (H) and removal of the special responsibilities given to the governor of the state in terms of law and order situation.
He commended the state’s various student unions, especially the AAPSU and the ANSU, for standing up and opposing the autonomy demands.