Exactly two months after the Supreme Court restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh after eight months of turmoil that saw so many political changes and controversies, the BJP on Friday pulled the carpet from below the ruling party’s feet by getting the entire CLP – except former chief minister Nabam Tuki – to join the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
This is the second BJP-engineered political coup in the frontier state that shares 1,080 kms of international boundary with China. While the first coup, that took a long time – from December 2015 to February 2016 – to dislodge the Congress was reversed by a Supreme Court’s judgment on July 13, it is not clear whether a re-run of that development would take place in the coming months.
“Our government is now a PPA government headed by Pema Khandu. We have all decided to and joined the PPA today (Friday) morning in the larger interest of Arunachal Pradesh. Since the PPA is already part of NEDA, we think that is the best option to work for the larger interest and overall development of the state,” Arunachal Pradesh deputy chief minister Chowna Mein said.
The Congress Legislature Party merging with the PPA came three days after a section of Congress MLAs approaching the BJP central leadership in New Delhi and expressing their desire to merge with it. According to reports, the BJP national leadership advised them to take a round-about way because the party already has 11 MLAs in the state whom it would not want to disturb.
While the Congress rebels under Kalikho Pul had first dislodged then chief minister Nabam Tuki in a “special assembly session” held on December 15, 2015 – one that was declared null and void by the Supreme Court seven months later – and Pul himself was appointed chief minister on February 20, 2016, the apex court on July 13 reversed the clock back to December 14, thus restoring Nabam Tuki’s Congress government. Tuki, however, almost immediately stepped down, making the way for Pema Khandu to take charge of the Congress government on July 16.
The political developments moved so fast that Kalikho Pul, the man who had led the original rebellion in the Congress was left in the lurch as all his followers too reverted to the Congress within less than 24 hours of the July 13 Supreme Court order. Twenty-four days later, former chief minister Kalikho Pul was found hanging inside the chief minister’s official bungalow in Itanagar which he was yet to vacate. Yet another person who faced the axe in the long-drawn drama is J P Rajkhowa, the governor who was dismissed only last week, apparently because he had failed to ensure a lasting a BJP-led or BJP-blessed government in the state.
What is in store for Arunachal Pradesh in the weeks to follow is beyond anybody’s imagination, especially in the backdrop of such ups and downs the state had witnessed between December 2015 and now. “This is going to be a stable government,” deputy chief minister Chowna Mein claimed, indicating that they have the blessings of the BJP-led government at the Centre.