A DAY after 43 of the 44 Congress MLAs, led by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, joined the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), Kamen Ringu, chairman of the regional outfit, said he was only contacted on Thursday evening. “Khandu must have been working on this plan for weeks. But it was only on Thursday evening that a senior Congress MLA came to me, after which Khandu told me that the entire CLP wanted to join the PPA,” Ringu told The Sunday Express.
“Khandu may be new to politics, but the way he planned his strategy, to push both Nabam Tuki and the Congress out of power, was a masterstroke,” he said. From zero MLAs, PPA now has 43 members in the House.
“That Khandu was not comfortable in the Congress even after taking over as chief minister in July was evident as the AICC gave them the cold shoulder. They had a bitter experience in the Congress in the last two months. Everyone noticed that there was no celebration in the Congress camp. No senior Congress leader came to Itanagar to celebrate their legal victory. That was one reason why Khandu, and for that matter the rest of his MLAs, finally decided that it was pointless to remain in the Congress,” said Ringu.
“The group of 39 Congress MLAs who earlier joined the PPA in February, under Kalikho Pul’s leadership, hurriedly returned to the Congress because of the Supreme Court’s July 13 order, only to prevent Nabam Tuki from continuing in office. They honoured the Supreme Court verdict, but then probably soon began working on a strategy to teach the Congress a lesson, that finally became a reality on Friday,” said Ringu.
“Kalikho Pul did not want to return to the Congress. In fact, he did so reluctantly, after all his supporters landed up at the Congress office here on July 15,” he said.
Former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, now the lone Congress legislator in the state, was not available for comment.
“I don’t think Tuki will come (to the PPA)… Even his cousin, Nabam Rebia, who was with him last time, has come,” said Chowna Mein, Deputy Chief Minister.
“A series of meetings were held with all the MLAs who arrived at the consensus to join the PPA because the regional party was already part of NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance),” Khandu had said on Friday.
Meanwhile, state BJP president Tapir Gao said Khandu and his MLAs had chalked out their own strategy and had not approached the BJP. “While we never initiated any move, they too did not come to us. The decision to join PPA was their own. But yes, we are happy because the PPA is part of NEDA,” said Gao.
Asked if they would join the BJP, Gao said: “If they want to come, our doors are open. But we won’t insist. After all the PPA is our important ally.”