Congress Party Has One Lawmaker Left In Arunachal Pradesh


16/09/2016 1:52 PM IST | Updated 16/09/2016 10:34 PM IST
Parth Sanyal / Reuters

NEW DELHI -- Just two months after the Supreme Court restored Arunachal Pradesh back to the Congress Party, its government in the northeastern state has once again collapsed, with all but one of if its lawmakers joining the People's Party of Arunachal, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In a mass exodus on Friday, Chief Minister Pema Khandu and more than 40 lawmakers joined BJP's ally, leaving behind only Nabam Tuki, who, the Congress Party had recently replaced with 37-year-old Khandu.

PTI reported that Khandu paraded 42 lawmakers before Assembly Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok on Friday, who accepted their joining the PPA. "There is no question of the government falling. It is now a PPA government with Pema Khandu as Chief Minister," Arunachal Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein told The Indian Express.

The 60-member Assembly comprised of 44 Congress Party members, with one seat falling vacant after former chief minister Kalikho Pul committed suicide, last month. There are also 12 MLAs from the BJP and two Independents who have also joined PPA.

PPA, founded in the late seventies by Tomo Riba, who served as Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh for less than two months in 1979, is now a member of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a political alliance formed between the BJP and regional parties.

Arunachal Pradesh has been wracked by political turmoil over the past nine months, starting with the fall of the Tuki government after 20 Congress lawmakers rebelled against him in January, followed by the imposition of President's Rule by the Centre.

With the backing of the BJP, Pul, who led the rebellion against Tuki, became chief minister for a few months. He returned to the Congress Party along with other dissident MLAs after the Supreme Court dismissed his government. Last month, 46-year-old Pul was found hanging at the official residence of the CM, which he never vacated.

While the Supreme Court had restored Tuki to power, internal disputes over his leadership persisted. In order to win back the dissident lawmakers, the Congress Party Legislature elected Khandu, son of late Dorjee Khandu, who had twice served as CM of the state.

Denying any involvement in the second rebellion which the Congress has faced this year, the BJP blamed mismanagement and the absence of strong leadership within the Grand Old Party for its current predicament in Arunachal Pradesh.

"Congress shouldn't blame BJP for its own failure," Union Minster Kiren Rijiju told ANI. "If the CM and ministers have to wait for days to meet their own leadership in Delhi. How can they stay in such party?"

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