Less than two months after it went out of power following a 133-day reign, the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) is back at the helm — the third time in 39 years since its formation in 1977.
The party had tasted success soon, coming to power within two years. “We had formed the government, with Tomo Riba as CM, on September 18, 1979. But there was no anti-defection law those days, and with Indira Gandhi back in power (at the Centre) after the fall of the Janata Party government, our government also fell after 47 days,” said Kamen Ringu, chairman of the party.
The party’s fortunes have swung like a yo-yo since March 3, when then CM Kalikho Pul and 39 rebel Congress MLAs joined it. The PPA did not have a single member in the Assembly until Friday morning. “(But) thanks to Pema Khandu and his team’s decision to join the PPA, by Friday afternoon the government was ours,” Ringu said on Saturday.
The PPA and the Congress have an interesting history. The party had five MLAs when the Assembly was elected in 2014 but they defected en bloc to the Congress within months. The PPA had won four seats in the 2009 elections. But all four MLAs had joined the Congress soon.
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“That the 39 PPA legislators had to return to the Congress in July was purely out of legal compulsions,” Ringu said. “They would have stayed on had the Supreme Court not ordered status quo ante as on December 15.”
Although back in power, Ringu is under no illusion that it may not last for long.
“There has been some speculation that they (Congress MLAs) will leave PPA again. Where they will be tomorrow is not known, but there should not be any pressure on PPA,” he said. Ringu said he expects the BJP not to “pressure” PPA legislators to join the saffron party. “I have been talking to NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and we have agreed not to go for any confrontation between NEDA constituents,” he said.