With the Union Cabinet on Wednesday recommending revocation of President’s Rule in Arunachal Pradesh, the frontier state in the Northeast is all set to witness the installation of a new Congress government — with outside support of the BJP. The cabinet decision came close on the heels of the Supreme Court turning down a Congress plea for an interim order to restrain the governor from swearing in a new government.
The Congress has repeatedly accused the BJP of engineering a split in its legislature party, however, it is a series of incidents including frequent dropping and induction of ministers that had actually led to political instability and the subsequent imposition of President’s Rule in the state. The BJP has claimed that it had not indulged in splitting the CLP. And technically, Pul and his group continue to be Congress members.
Arunachal Pradesh has witnessed instability for quite some time now despite the Congress winning 47 seats in the 60-member House in the 2014 assembly election that was held simultaneously with the last Lok Sabha election.
However, CM Nabam Tuki, who had first taken over as chief minister in October 2011 amid a serious law and order breakdown, had a tough time keeping everybody happy. In fact his tenure has been marked by frequent dismissals and induction of ministers, some of them coming back by turn, a process that finally left many unhappy.
Right now, the Congress continues to have 45 members in a House of 58 (two MLAs have resigned). As many as 21 of them are on Pul’s side. That would not have been a problem for the Congress high command to control which has a history of overcoming more serious problems. However, while the BJP extended support to the Pul faction, Governor JP Rajkhowa went all out to exercise his powers, leading to a series of developments unprecedented in Indian parliamentary history.
The House session, for instance, was held one day in a community hall and another day in a hotel after the the Tuki government and Speaker Nabam Rebia allegedly blocked the dissidents’ entry into the Assembly premises on December 16 and 17 last year. Likewise, while the makeshift House passed an impeachment motion against speaker Nabam Rebia, the chief minister was “voted out” in absentia – both on the basis of the 11-member BJP team moving the resolutions.
Nobody knows what exactly will be the nomenclature of the new government to be headed by Kalikho Pul because he continues to remain a Congress member. One thing is for sure: even after Kalikho Pul takes charge, his government will find it tough to ensure stability and permanency. First and foremost, he will have to pass a floor test. While outside support by the BJP will ensure that for the time being, there is simply no reason why the saffron party would let it run for long. After all, the BJP clearly knows that both Tuki and Pul at the moment belong to the Congress. The question is whether Arunachal Pradesh will continue with more instability, or fresh elections will be held along with Assam, West Bengal and Kerala two months from now.