FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
Itagar, July 17: From assisting his father Dorjee Khandu in politics to working for social transformation, Pema Khandu has travelled a long way to sit in the coveted post of chief minister of Aruchal Pradesh. 37-year-old Pema, the youngest chief minister of the country, is all set to follow the footsteps of his father and former chief minister Dorjee Khandu, who died in a chopper crash in 2011 near Luguthang in Tawang district bordering Chi.
Pema was elected leader of the Congress Legislature Party yesterday in a dramatic turn of events for the beleaguered party fighting to save its government. Eldest son of the family, Pema, a graduate from Delhi’s prestigious Hindu College had an early entry into governce after his father’s demise.
And in five years, he has emerged as the chief ministerial prospect after Supreme Court’s intervention that changed the course of politics in the state with dissidents returning to Congress.
Pema, who hails from Tawang, first entered the Aruchal 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 Resource Development and Tourism in the Jarbom Gamlin ministry.
He also became the cabinet minister for Rual Works Department (RWD) and Tourism since November 21, 2011 in bam 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 bam Tuki government after the general election. He quit as minister in October last year and sided with dissident Kalikho Pul.
Hailing from Gyangkhar village under Tawang district, Pema is the father of two sons and a daughter. He belongs to the Monpa tribe. He had joined the Congress in early 2000 and became Secretary of Aruchal Pradesh Congress Committee in 2005 and President of Tawang District Congress Committee in 2010. Pema was re-elected unopposed from Mukto in the 2014 assembly elections.
Soft spoken, globetrotter Pema, who travelled to Japan, Thailand, Macau, Sri Lanka, USA, Cada, South Africa and Bhutan, is associated with numerous socio-cultural organisations, including Bodhi Language and Literature Promotiol Society as chairman.
He also championed civil-Army relations, plantation drive in hilly Tawang district, organised periodical medical camps in various parts of the district.
Besides promoting games and sports in the district, Pema also patronized talent search among local youth to preserve traditiol songs by conducting talent show in Tawang and West Kameng districts. He is also fond of various sports including football, cricket, badminton and volleyball. He is keen on developing a peaceful and socio-economically vibrant state with cordial relations among various tribes of the state.