Hinting conduct of panchayati raj elections in the state soon, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu today called upon the state’s media fraternity to hold a brainstorming session with intellectuals, youths and university students on ‘whether to hold the local body elections on party lines’ and submit a report to the state government to act on.
Speaking at the National Press Day celebrations here at the newly constructed Multi-Purpose Cultural Hall, Khandu appreciated the debate competition held on the day on ‘Revocation of Article 370 governing Jammu & Kashmir will have long term impact on North East’ and said similar kind of debate or symposium may be conducted by the press fraternity on the aforesaid topic.
He personally viewed that elections to the local bodies, which is currently fought on party lines, deters eligible and qualified people from contesting and winning. He said panchayati raj and municipal councils are the first step of future leaders, who would run the state eventually, therefore the best and eligible candidates only should get elected.
“As all political parties have their own set of rules and eligibility criteria, many a times the most suited person doesn’t get the party ticket to contest. Moreover, voters get confused whom to vote owing to their party affiliations,” he said.
“I personally feel that elections to the local bodies should be based on individuals rather than on party lines so that all eligible candidates get a fair chance and voters too can decide without any political considerations,” he added.
Taking the opportune moment of the huge presence of media persons, Khandu informed that the Consultative Committee on Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) formed by the state government is ready with its final report after detailed consultations with all stakeholders. He said, a Cabinet meeting has been convened on Monday next to discuss on the report and draft a final submission to the union Home Ministry.
Touching on another viral issue making rounds, the Chief Minister said everybody should appreciate the ongoing Naga peace talks and hope for a final solution to the decades old vexed issue.
“We appreciate the talks between the Govt of India and Naga groups, which as reported in the media, is nearing its final phase. Once an agreement is reached peace and normalcy will return in the region so that we can concentrate on development. However, when it comes to territorial integrity of our state, I have made my stand clear to the central government that we will not compromise on it,” he said.
Khandu said he will soon call an all-party meeting on the issue.
Asserting that the role of media is vital in generating a democratic culture that extends beyond the political system and becomes engrained in the public consciousness over time, Khandu said media also serve as watchdogs that people rely on for uncovering errors and wrongdoings by those who have power.
Expressing concern that corruption continues unabated, he urged the media to help his government fight the evil.
“From day one, both the BJP Government at the Center and the state have declared zero tolerance to corruption. Sad part is, despite our sincere efforts, it continues. You must expose all such acts and incidences, for us to take appropriate action,” he said.
Terming ‘transparency’ as another important promise of his government, Khandu said transparency in governance can be maintained only when the media is proactive and vibrant.
As per tradition, the press fraternity awarded the V Ravindran Award for Excellence in Journalism (Print) to three print journalists. This year the awards were won by Lijo Karlo (Arunachal Times) in the Human Interest category for her story ‘Why stigma is a greater disease’, Nellie Manpoong (Arunachal Times) in Politics & Governance category for her story ‘Govt tight-lipped on JHPC’s PRC recommendations’ and Talar Yuto (Arunachal Pioneer) in the Investigative Journalism category for his story ‘Potential tourist hotspot Naksha Parvat cries for attention’.
This year the press fraternity has introduced another award for electronic media-persons called the Taro Chatung Award for Excellence in Electronic Media as a tribute to the late pioneer of electronic media in the state. The first edition of the awards were won by Raj Pradhan (Itanagar News) in the Human Interest category for his story ‘Binum Taba – First female tempo driver, Yuvraj Mehta (Aaj Tak) in Politics & Governance category for his coverage ‘PRC issue: Violence in Itanagar’ and Sange Droma Bodoi (Arunachal Today) in Investigative Journalism category for her story ‘Chowkham Post Office Scandal’.
Dr Rapten (Dorjee Tashi) of Rama Camp, Dirang, was awarded the ‘Outstanding Achiever’ tittle for treating free of cost more than 15000 patients in a span of two years through his indigenous knowledge acquired by training in naturopathy in Sikkim and Vietnam. He is known for a unique Spoon Therapy given to patients suffering from gastric.
Meanwhile, the debate completion was jointly won by the teams of Rajiv Gandhi University, Doimukh and St Claret College, Ziro. With this win the St Claret College team became proud owners of the Chief Minister’s Running Trophy by virtue of winning it for three consecutive years.
The Press Day celebration was attended by Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, legislators chow Zignu Namchoom, Jummum Ete Deori, Karikho Kri, officers of the district administration, Chief Engineers of Eastern Zone, HoDs, CBO leaders, senior citizens and students.
Incidentally, the National Press Day celebration became the first event to be held at the newly constructed state of the art Multi-Purpose Cultural Hall, which was inaugurated by the Chief Minister in the morning.