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Kiren Rijiju, the BJP's man in Arunachal Pradesh

December 16, 2016 10:33 IST

Kiren RijijuThe BJP has not really put up any defence for Kiren Rijiju who is mostly defending himself.
How the worm will turn is the question, says Aditi Phadnis/Business Standard.

In March 2009, local newspapers reported that Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu conceded he had approached the Bharatiya Janata Party Lok Sabha member from Arunachal (West) Kiren Rijiju with an offer to induct him into the ruling Congress prior to the confidence vote on the nuclear deal.

Khandu told a press conference that he had approached Rijiju with the offer when the United Progressive Alliance was facing difficulty in mustering the required numbers.

Rijiju, then a BJP national secretary, said that he had spurned Khandu's offer, although it would have become easier for him to get (re)elected as 9 MLAs from his party had joined the Congress earlier.

That's par for the course in Arunachal Pradesh where it is sometimes hard to keep track of the parties that candidates belong to.

The circumstances in which the late Kalikho Pul abandoned the Congress, engineered dissidence, got the BJP to support a breakaway faction and finally formed the government is legendary.

It is possibly the first time the Arunachal Pradesh assembly held a session in a local school because locks were put on the assembly.

It was widely thought that the operation was engineered by Rijiju -- as minister of state for home, he was in a position to carry out the operation.

But later it transpired that Rijiju had played no role at all. In fact, Pul's supporters claim that he was closer to Nabam Tuki, the deposed chief minister, than Pul, the man who was seeking to put the BJP in power.

Rijiju has acted as ambassador of his state in the past as well. Because of the bitter attack launched by Narendra Modi against the Congress in the run-up to the 2014 elections, Tuki, who was then Arunachal Pradesh chief minister, refused to meet Modi.

But Rijiju facilitated a meeting, after which Modi agreed to provide a domestic window for funding of infrastructure projects in lieu of externally aided funding from agencies like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank that were previously blocked by China.

Arunachal Pradesh has no appreciable funds at its disposal and is entirely dependent on the Centre for funding. Rijiju persuaded Tuki to acknowledge this reality.

As always, the current controversy in which Rijiju is involved has to do with money and power.

The chief vigilance officer of the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) has alleged that Rijiju, his cousin Goboi Rijiju -- a contractor in Arunachal Pradesh -- and several top NEEPCO officials are involved in a multi-crore scam in the construction of two dams for the 600 Mw Kameng hydro electric project, one of the biggest hydro-electric projects in Arunachal Pradesh.

The evidence is letters written by Rijiju and an alleged conversation where his cousin is heard telling a supposed colleague to take the help of 'Bhaiya' to secure contracts and payments.

The CVO is a Gujarat cadre police officer.

The BJP has not really put up any defence for Rijiju who is mostly defending himself. How the worm will turn is the question.

Aditi Phadnis New Delhi
Source: