Pema Khandu was on Sunday sworn in as the new chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh heading a Congress government, a day after the party pulled off a dramatic success winning back all its rebels by choosing a new leader, marking the culmination of fast-paced political developments.
Chowna Mein was sworn in as the deputy chief minister. Son of late Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu, Pema, 37, who became the youngest chief minister in the country and the ninth in the tiny northeastern state, and Mein were administered the oath of office and secrecy by Governor Tathagata Roy at the Rajbhavan in Itanagar. Dorjee Khandu had died in an air crash in 2011.
Addressing a press conference shortly after he was sworn in, Pema said an expansion of his ministry would take place only after the governor returned to the state. Roy, who is governor of Tripura, is holding additional charge as Arunachal Pradesh governor.
Pema said he would inculcate a 'Team Arunachal’ spirit among elected leaders irrespective of party affiliations for overall development of his state. "All elected leaders of the state would be made a part of the development process cutting across political lines."
From assisting his father in politics to working for social transformation, Pema has come a long way to occupy the coveted post. Hours ahead of the scheduled floor test in the Assembly yesterday which Chief Minister Nabam Tuki was directed by the governor to take, the Congress Legislature Party had elected Pema, in place of Tuki, in a dramatic turnaround. Tuki was restored to the chief minister's post on Wednesday by the Supreme Court.
Pema then staked claim to power on the basis of the support of 45 party MLAs along with two independents. In a volte-face, ousted chief minister Khaliko Pul also returned to the party fold with 30 dissident MLAs, a move that stunned the Bharatiya Janata Party which had supported his government.
In the 60-member House with an effective strength of 58, Congress now claims the support of 47 MLAs, including two independents. Eldest son of the family, Pema, a graduate from Delhi's prestigious HinduCollege, had an early entry into governance after his father's demise.
Pema, who hails from Tawang, first entered the Arunachal Pradesh assembly in 2011 to fill the vacancy caused by his father's death.
His election as MLA from Mukto (ST) constituency was uncontested and he was soon included in the state government as Cabinet minister for water resources development and tourism in the Jarbom Gamlin ministry.
He also became the cabinet minister for rural works department and tourism since November 21, 2011 in Nabam Tuki government and thereafter served the state as cabinet minister for tourism, civil aviation and art & culture.
He was re-inducted as the urban development minister on June 1, 2014 in the Tuki government after the general elections.
He quit as minister in October last year and had sided with dissident Kalikho Pul.