Congress loses 43 MLAs to PPA in Arunachal Pradesh, blames BJP for fiasco

The Congress on Friday lost its government in Arunachal Pradesh when 43 of its MLAs led by Chief Minister Pema Khandu defected wholesale barring former chief minister Nabam Tuki and merged with the People's Party of Arunachal, 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 would be notified in the Assembly bulletin, formalising the political development that leaves 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 after Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980.

Sonia Gandhi (left) with Rahul Gandhi. PTI

Sonia Gandhi (left) with Rahul Gandhi. PTI

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

Khandu on 16 July 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 chief minister Kalikho Pul committed suicide on 9 August, 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 Pul government on 19 February for a short span.

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

PPA 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, 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 3 March to 13 July this year under late Pul. Earlier the PPA had formed the government in 1979 when Tomo Riba was the chief minister.

Riba, who took oath on 18 September, 1979, ruled the state for 46 days before being deposed on 3 November, the same year.

Meanwhile, state BJP president Tapir Gao, while welcoming 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," Gao said.

While blaming the Congress high command for the mess in the party, 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, Gao said the party's door was open.

Meanwhile, the Congress blamed the BJP for the unfolding fiasco in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Congress on Friday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP of "foul play" and committing a "fraud on democracy" after Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu along with 42 Congress MLAs quit the party and joined Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA).

"Modi's and BJP's (Bharatiya Janata Party) foul play and fraud on democracy has come to a full circle in Arunachal Pradesh today," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters in New Delhi.

"PPA is the illegitimate child of the BJP's diabolical design to decimate democracy," he alleged.

"Mandate of the people of the border state of Arunachal has been robbed in broad day light," Surjewala said.

The Congress leader's remarks came after Pema Khandu and 42 Congress MLAs defected to the PPA, an ally of the BJP in the state.

"The gross and rampant misuse of money power finally delivered an immoral government of opportunists and turncoats," Surjewala said.

He also said "Sadly the architects of extinguishing and murdering the very spirit of democracy and constitutionalism, are Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi and (BJP national president) Amit Shah who rode to power on the promise of cooperative federalism."

"Having been thwarted twice, BJP began by engineering defections, inducements, threats etc to subvert people's mandate," the Congress leader said, adding, "They sacrificed a former Chief Minister and Governor, who enjoyed their patronage."

"BJP government has annihilated the soul of constitutional supremacy," he added.

Surjewala also said that the "prodigal sons of Congress" who have jumped ship have made "massive ideological and political blunder and compromise".

"They have also destroyed trust of people of Arunachal Pradesh, who voted for them as candidates of Congress. Such politics, as we are seeing in Arunachal Pradesh, is neither tenable nor credible," the Congress leader added.

With inputs from PTI and IANS

Updated Date: Sep 16, 2016 18:15 PM

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