Two months after the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh was brought back to power by the court, they plunged into a fresh crisis on Friday as all but one legislator joined a regional outfit.
This is not the first time that the Peoples Party of Arunachal has been propped to power in the frontier state. The first time it occurred was when a rebel Congress government led by Kalikho Pul, had walked out with 24 MLAs and merged with the regional party in March.
“Forty-two of the total 43 Congress MLAs decided to leave the party and join PPA. The assembly Speaker has been apprised of the development,” deputy chief minister Chowna Mein told Hindustan Times.
Now, with a 60 member house, there is only one seat that is occupied by a Congress legislator. Two independent MLAs, who were initially supporting Khandu’s government, have also now decided to support the new front.
“The next government would be headed by Pema Khandu and is likely to be installed within the next few days,” said Mein.
Sources are claiming that the reason behind the Congress MLAs crossing over to PPA is in hopes to secure more funds from the BJP led government in the Centre.
“This is a homecoming for our PPA leaders after a temporary self-exile,” Kameng Ringu, chairman of PPA, told Hindustan Times, denying the BJP had a hand in driving the switch of Congress MLAs to PPA.
Ringu said “there is no scenario at present” for the PPA, as speculated, to eventually merge with the BJP. “We have faith in Pema Khandu and his ability to provide a good PPA government.”
As Friday dawned, the MLAs huddled with PPA leaders, leaving chief minister Pema Khandu. Around noon the merger was complete with only former chief minister Nabam Tuki opting to be out.
Including Tuki, there are a total of 42 MLAs in the PPA in a 60-member assembly.
The BJP has 11 legislators and two MLAs are independent. One seat was vacated after Pul committed suicide on August 9.
A Congress administration led by Tuki was pushed out after Pul joined the PPA and formed the government in February. In July, the Supreme Court termed Pul’s five-month-old government as unconstitutional and reinstated Tuki as chief minister, a decision seen as a setback for the BJP-led Centre and a moral victory for the Congress.
But Tuki had to make way for Khandu as many of the rebel Congress MLAs including Pul — who rejoined the party — sided with the son of former chief minister Dorjee Khandu. Pul committed suicide soon after. It was expected political stability would return after 37-year-old Khandu took charge in July.