Friday, September 16, 2016

42 MLAs led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu join People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh

> Pema Khandu parades 42 MLAs before Assembly Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok, who accepted their joining the PPA.

The Congress on Friday lost its government in Arunachal Pradesh when 43 of its MLAs led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu defected wholesale and merged with the People’s Party of Arunachal, just two months after it had regained power.

Mr. Khandu, who had replaced Nabam Tuki following a dissident campaign in July 2016, paraded 42 MLAs before Assembly Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok, who accepted their joining the PPA, Assembly sources said.

The move would be notified in the Assembly bulletin, formalising the political development that leaves the Congress with governments only in Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the northeast.
The dramatic development in Arunachal Pradesh brought back memories of the famous ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ episode involving Bhajan Lal who was heading a Janata Party government in Haryana and defected lock, stock, and barrel with all the party MLAs to the Congress after Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980.

Mr. Tuki was the only Congress MLA who did not join PPA, a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) which was formed on May 24 in Guwahati.

Mr. Khandu became Chief Minister on July 16 after months of political turmoil that unseated Mr. Tuki, who himself was reinstated as Chief Minister by the apex court only two days before.
In a House of 60, the Congress had 44 MLAs with one seat falling vacant after former chief minister Kalikho Pul committed suicide on August 9, while the BJP has 11 members including two Independents.

The status of two Congress MLAs is yet to be decided as they put in their papers before the recent series of political developments that led to first Tuki government falling in January this year, imposition of President’s rule and installation of the late Kalikho Pul government on February 19 for a short span.

Mr. Pul was forced to resign in July 13 following a Supreme Court judgement. On March 3 last, Pul along with 29 Congress MLAs joined the PPA.

PPA CWC chairman Kameng Ringu termed the development as a “homecoming” after a short temporary self-exile of the party.

Asked for the reasons behind the development, Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said that for a resource-starved state like Arunachal, it is necessary to be with a bigger party to get more development funds from the Centre.

However, Mr. Tuki, who was out of the station, could not be contacted for his comments. The PPA had ruled the State for a brief period from March 3 to July 13 this year under Pul. Earlier the PPA had formed the government in 1979 when Tomo Riba was the Chief Minister.

Mr. Riba, who took oath on September 18, 1979, ruled the State for 46 days before being deposed on November 3, 1979. Meanwhile, State BJP President Tapir Gao, while welcoming Mr. Khandu’s move, stated that the decision should have been taken earlier. “We are happy that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s dream of a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ is becoming a reality now,” Mr. Gao said. While blaming the Congress high command for the mess in the party, Mr. Gao said party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi should have taken care of this.

Asked about the possibility of PPA MLAs merging with the BJP, Mr. Gao said the party’s door was open.

Union Minister Kiren Rijiju blamed internal dissent in Congress for the political turmoil in Arunachal Pradesh, where Chief Minister Pema Khandu and 42 MLAs have joined a regional outfit PPA.
Mr. Rijiju, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, said on Friday that his party, the BJP, had no role in the latest political development in the State and that the Congress MLAs were “angry with their own leadership”.

It is the second time this year that the Congress has been hit hard by rebellion. “Congress MLAs including the Chief Minister in Arunachal are angry with their own central leadership. They have to wait in Delhi for 4—5 days to meet their own leaders. This has eventually led to MLAs joining a regional party. There is no more Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh,” the Minister told reporters in New Delhi.

The Minister of State for Home said “if the MLAs don’t want to stay with Congress, what can the others do“. “The Supreme Court also reinstated the Congress government but ultimately the MLAs’ decision is final. Congress tried to blame BJP unnecessarily,” he said.

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