National

With mass defection, Cong loses govt in Arunachal

Press Trust of India Itanagar | Updated on January 16, 2018

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu in a file photo

43 MLAs led by CM Khandu defect to rival party 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 (PPA), just two months after it had regained power.

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

The merger will be notified in the Assembly bulletin, formalising the political development that leaves the Congress with governments only in Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the North-East.

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 in 1980.

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

Khandu on July 16 had become the Chief Minister after months of political turmoil that unseated 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 CM Kalikho Pul committed suicide on August 9, while the BJP has 11 members including two Independents.

Uncertain status

The status of the 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. Pul was forced to resign on July 13 following a Supreme Court judgment. On March 3, Pul, along with 29 Congress MLAs, had joined the PPA.

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

Pul, a Congress MLA who committed suicide last month, was forced to resign in July following a Supreme Court judgement.

Published on September 16, 2016

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