The tiny state of Arunachal Pradesh – tiny in terms of population, the size of the state assembly, and representation in the Lok Sabha (just two members) – has taught a big lesson to the BJP.
While the saffron party’s plans to destablize non-BJP states and install its own government by employing various kinds of tactics have failed, the state also got the Supreme Court to explain in details, why a governor should not be used for such purposes.
The Congress government in the state – which was “dismissed” in what the SC said was an illegal and unconstitutional manner in December last year – has not only been reinstated, but those Congress rebels who had joined the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) after forming a government with outside support of the BJP, have also returned to their original party.
Nabam Tuki, who was reinstated as chief minister by the Supreme Court on Wednesday, has stepped down, and the reunited 45-member Congress Legislature Party on Saturday elected Pema Khandu, eldest son of former chief minister Dorjee Khandu (who had died in a helicopter crash in 2011) as the new CLP leader.
The return of the Congress rebels to the party fold in Arunachal Pradesh and the election of a new Congress chief minister has come as the third successive big blow to the BJP in the recent months.
While the Uttarakhand episode was the first blow, the next two –Wednesday’s Supreme Court judgment reinstating the Congress government of Nabam Tuki and Saturday’s decision of the Congress rebels to return home came in quick succession. Moreover, the Arunachal Pradesh developments took place at a time when the BJP had raised its slogan of “Congress-mukt Northeast” only four days ago.
How the Congress rebels had returned to the party fold is one thing. Why they returned is more important. Wednesday’s apex court judgment had ordered status quo ante in the state assembly as on December 15, 2015. Going by that order, all 30 rebel Congress MLAs who had subsequently joined the PPA, legally once again became Congress members.
Tuki’s Congress government would have fallen if the 30 rebel (along with 11 BJP and 2 Independent) legislators had voted against it. But then, a whip issued by the Congress would have led to disqualification of the 30 rebels which probably would have led to dissolution of the state assembly and holding fresh elections.
This exactly is where the Congress managed to score a very important point against the BJP. With the recent Assam elections leading to a massive BJP-led alliance’s victory, an immediate election in Arunachal Pradesh could have led to a situation where it would have been difficult for the Congress to resist the BJP. The BJP was either looking forward to the defeat of Tuki’s reinstated government in a floor test or to fresh polls.
The Congress managed to kill two birds with one stone.
What remains to be understood is this: why didn’t the same Congress party take the same decision when the rebels had raised their heads in the middle of 2015? The rebels had a single-point agenda: the removal of Nabam Tuki from the chief minister’s post. Had that been done eight or ten months ago, there would not have been any scope for so many unsavoury developments.