Tirap, Longding face anti-incumbency and militancy

[ Tongam Rina ]

With the exception of a seat or two, the BJP seems to have a fair chance in Tirap and Longding districts, but several candidates have to work harder as there is a huge anti-incumbency wave in the two districts. Also, the added issue of militancy still has a major grip on the politics of the two districts. Unlike other times, violent interference from various factions of NSCN seems to have lessened this year for obvious reasons; however, it still is a disruptive force.

In 54-Namsang, it’s a straight fight between the BJP’s Wangki Lowang and the NCP’s Ngonglin Boi. This is the second time they will be facing each other. Unlike before, it’s a tough fight for Lowang, one of the veterans of state politics, who has represented the constituency since 1999.

55-Khonsa will see a three-cornered contest with Kamrang Tesia of the BJP, Nokja Wanghop of the NPP, and Wanglam Sawin, who is standing as an independent candidate after being denied a ticket. The BJP may come to regret its decision, but then, electoral politics is unpredictable sometimes. Sawin, the two-time MLA, had won the seat on a BJP ticket in 2019 and on a PPA ticke in 2014. Tesia is the Tirap district BJP president, while Wanghop is a former BJP worker. So, all three contesting candidates have a BJP connection, which isn’t unique in the current state politics.

In 56-Khonsa East, there are five candidates, including Chakat Aboh, the sitting MLA of the BJP. Up against her are the PPA’s Gawang Hakun, the INC’s Tangse Tekwa, and Azet Homtok as an independent. Yang Sen Matey is also one of the contenders. The young politician joined the race after his father Yumsem Matey was assassinated in December last year. Given the makeup of the constituency, Khonsa is a difficult constituency to predict. Lazu segment will have a bearing on the outcome of the result.

570-Borduria has been sending Wanglin Lowangdong as its representative since 2004. The paramount chief of the Noktes, Lowangdong recently joined the BJP from the Congress. A former speaker of the legislative assembly and a minister, Lowangdong was elected unopposed from the constituency once, but this time, up against him are Honting Wangpan of the PPA and Jowang Hosai of the NCP. Wangpan, a young entrepreneur, is a first-timer, while Hosai had contested against Lowangdong last time.

In 58-Kanubari, there are four candidates. The sitting MLA and BJP candidate Gabriel Denwang Wangsu is seeking a third term. Nokchai Boham, who had lost the election last time to Wangsu, is seeking a chance this time on a PPA ticket. Post-nomination as an INC candidate, Sompha Wangsa has joined hands with Boham, which may make it a little more difficult for the sitting MLA. Others are Panjam Wangsa of the NPP, who started his political career as a zilla parishad member.

59-Longding-Pumao is witnessing a straight contest between the BJP’s Tanpho Wangnaw and the NPP’s Thangwang Wangham. The state NPP president, Wangham has been a minister before, while Wangnaw is a two-time MLA. It’s a very close race in the constituency.

In 60-Pongchaw Wakha, sitting minister Honchun Ngandam has never lost an election since 2004. He is seeking yet another term and seems to have a tough fight against Holai Wangsa, an independent candidate. The two have faced each other before. With Gangdiap Gangsa, whose candidature was rejected, teaming up with Wangsa, it has become even more intense in the troubled border constituency.

The two districts send seven MLAs to the legislative assembly in the 60-member House, making it an important constituent in terms of numbers. When combined with Changlang, the three districts literally swing the state politics, so everyone will be keeping a keen eye on what unfolds on 2 June, while praying for peaceful polls on 19 April.