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Dorjee Khandu: From Grassroot activist to Chief Minister

29 Mar,2022 05:28 PM, by: Manna Mili
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A high school dropout who rose to the position of Chief Minister, Lt. Shri. Dorjee Khandu ji is till date undoubtedly the state's most popular politician who committed his life to the betterment and development of Arunachal Pradesh.

Dorjee Khandu was born on March 3rd, 1955, in Gyangkhar village, Tawang district, Arunachal Pradesh (Earlier NEFA) to the Monpa community. After pursuing his education till the eighth grade, he joined the military intelligence service and went on to serve in the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1972. Right from the beginning of his career, he dedicated himself to the Indian Army and was awarded a gold medal for his distinguished intelligence services.

His political Career

Khandu left his profession in the 1980s to become a social worker, then a politician. In 1990, he won his first assembly election from the Mukto constituency, and in March 1995, he was appointed Minister of Cooperation for the first time. Before taking over as CM on April 9, 2007, he was in charge of a number of ministries, including veterinary, power, and mines.

Up until 1980, he was actively involved in social activities for the village people of Tawang district and was responsible for their welfare. He was unopposedly chosen as the first ASM in 1980 and served in that role until 1983. He served as Chairman of the Culture and Co-operative Societies from 1982 until 1986. He also led the cultural troupe representing Arunachal Pradesh in the Asian Games in Delhi, 1982 winning a silver medal for good performance, thanks to his ardent efforts from the cultural and cooperative groups.

He was elected unopposed as District Vice President of the West Kameng district Zila Parishad from 1983 to 1987. From 1987 to 1990, he worked tirelessly in the social sector, bringing water, electricity, communication, schools, and religious organisations to remote villages.

Dorjee Khandu was elected unopposed to the first Legislative Assembly of Arunachal Pradesh from the Thingbu-Mukto constituency in March 1990. In March 1995, he was re-elected to the state of Arunachal Pradesh's second Legislative Assembly from the same constituency. From March 21, 1995, he was appointed Minister of State for Corporation. Dorjee Khandu was appointed Cabinet Minister for Animal Husbandry, Veterinary and Dairy Development on September 21, 1996. From the year 1998 through 2006, he served as the Minister of Power.

Dorjee Khandu was elected to Arunachal Pradesh's third Legislative Assembly in October 1999. From October 15, 2002, to July 27, 2003, he served as Minister of Mines, Relief, and Rehabilitation. He was appointed Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation as well as Disaster Management on July 28, 2003.

 In the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections of 2004, he was re-elected unopposed from the Mukto constituency and appointed Minister for Power, NCER, and Relief and Rehabilitation. Dorjee Khandu succeeded Gegong Apang as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh on April 9, 2007. He was re-elected unopposed from the same constituency in 2009, and sworn in as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh on October 25, 2009.

On October 25, 2009, he was re-elected unopposed to the role of Chief Minister for the second consecutive term. He is known to execute a number of plans for the state's infrastructural development. During his tenure as Chief Minister, many schools, hospitals, and institutions were built.

He also revived the state-owned APEX Cooperation bank, which had been closed following a Rs. 200 crore loan fraud. He further directed the Central Government to establish a regional head office for the FIC in the state.

Tragic Death

The helicopter carrying Dorjee Khandu and four other ministers on a tour from Tawang to Itanagar disappeared on April 30, 2011. The airborne search for Dorjee Khandu was called off on May 2nd owing to bad weather. The Indian Army, police, SSB, and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police later on launched a ground search.

A group of tribal people near Tawang district discovered the wreckage of the crashed chopper on May 4th. Dorjee Khandu's death was condemned by ministers from all throughout the country. On the morning of May 5th, India's Home Minister, P Chidambaram, confirmed Dorjee Khandu's death. According to Monpa Buddhist customs, the Chief Minister's funeral rituals were performed in his native hamlet of Gyangkhar in Tawang district.

The people of Arunachal Pradesh will remember late Dorjee Khandu, a visionary leader, for his strength of character, generosity, and vision, which continues to inspire and remind us of his invaluable contribution to strengthening the state of Arunachal Pradesh and spearheading its people towards development and progress as the state's chief minister.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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