PPA explains bypoll loss in Lungla, claims candidates were threatened

ITANAGAR, 12 Feb: The People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) issued a press release on Sunday, explaining how its candidate – former Zemithang GB Leki Norbu – for the Lungla by-election was unable to participate in the bypoll.

The party said that Norbu had been announced as the PPA candidate on 24 January.

“After necessary formalities in Itanagar, Norbu was given the party ticked and he left for Tawang on 3 February. On 4 February, a team of senior party leaders, led by PPA president Kahfa Bengia, also left for Tawang to oversee the filing of nomination papers by the party’s candidate.

“From the day of declaration till the last date of nomination for the bypoll, the party leadership, including its candidate, were under immense pressure from all corners, with threats being constantly issued to party nominee Leki Norbu and his team for withdrawal of candidature.

“Even after reaching Tawang, a delegation from the Monpa Mimang Tsogpa, which is the apex body of the Monpa tribe, called on the PPA team on 5 February for allowing the BJP candidate Tsering Lhamu to be elected unopposed,” the release stated.

“PPA president Kahfa Bengia had repeatedly made it clear that the party never meant to disrespect the family members of late Jambey Tashi, or his contributions to the area. As a responsible political party, the PPA had only intended to avail what has been provided in the Constitution of India,” it said.

“Till the night of 6 February, the party’s main candidate Leki Norbu and alternative candidates Anna Lama and Lobsang Gyatso were in touch with the party leaders who were camping at the circuit house in Tawang since 4 February. However, from the morning hours of 7 February, which was the last date of filing nominations, both the alternative candidates became inaccessible. To this very day, the party has not been able to reach them, either in person or through any other means,” it said.

“What happened in the run-up to the Lungla bypoll shall perhaps go down in history as the darkest day for democracy in Arunachal Pradesh.

The entire state is witness to the tactics used by the Pema Khandu-led state government and its agencies (both official and unofficial) to get the elections go without any opposition candidates.

“With the chief minister himself going around and publicly appealing for MLAs to be elected in 2024 as uncontested candidates, the situation in the state can no longer be considered as viable for parliamentary democracy under the present state government,” the PPA said, adding that “the voice of the common people was perhaps suppressed through threats of bodily harm, lure of money and position, use of CBOs, threat of excommunication, etc.”

“We call for fair introspection from the people. There is every possibility for repetition in the 2024 assembly elections across the state of whatever transpired with PPA candidate in Lungla bypoll,” the party said.

Claiming that the PPA “has been subject to immense criticism and ridicule in various forums for the failure of its candidate to file nomination,” it said that, “on closer introspection, it will be very much clearer that failure of the party to get its candidate to file the nomination is not just the defeat of the party but also the defeat of everything that makes India a parliamentary democracy.”

“If 10 questions are asked to the party regarding the bypoll debacle, at least one question should be directed at the CM as to why such illegalities were allowed to be committed? Why are the PPA supporters in Lungla still being threatened?” it said.

“Although we were not successful in getting any of our party candidates to file nominations, the PPA made an honest attempt to take part in the mandated electoral process and provide a better alternative to the people of the constituency,” it said.

“The notoriety inflicted upon the PPA has emboldened the party to start afresh with renewed vigour, and the party shall continue to strive for the people and be their voice,” it added.