Since it lost the state elections in Assam on May 16, the Congress has been receiving only bad news from the North-East, one of its traditional bastions. It has been listless in tackling organisational issues in the remote region so today’s Supreme Court verdict restoring its government in Arunachal Pradesh, comes as something of a breather for the embattled party.
That the good news has come on the eve of the Parliament’s monsoon session will no doubt make the party more aggressive. It has already made plans to corner the government over the oft-repeated and over-used phrase “murder of democracy” in both the Houses. It is advantage Congress ahead of the session thanks to judicial pronouncements – only yesterday it also received some relief in the National Herald case.
The Congress is in touch with the other opposition parties which have a common interest in the repeated instances of adventurism of the union government. As the CPM was quick to point out, the Centre must heed this verdict and stop its growing authoritarian tendency to invoke central rule in states that have opposition party governments.
However, while the Congress has managed to save its governments in Uttarakhand and now Arunachal Pradesh, its troubles are far from over. It is feeling the heat from the BJP in the North East. While it celebrated the apex court verdict and used it to criticise the BJP, there is a realisation that more worries are in store for it in the region.
It is ironical that the Supreme Court verdict came as the BJP sounded the “Congress-mukt Northeast” in Guwahati launching the Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) comprising nine parties from the region. In Arunachal Pradesh itself, the Congress faces an uncertain future: the numbers in the state are not in its favour. The only hope is that many of the MLAs who had switched sides and gone with Kalikho Pul will return to the fold — efforts for their ghar wapsi have already begun.
That apart, trouble is brewing in many other states. Sources said, many of its MLAs in Assam are in touch with the BJP and their new found star, Himanta Biswa Sarma. They could cross over one by one, resign and contest by-elections in seats vacated by them on BJP tickets.
In Meghalaya, the rebellion against Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is showing no signs of abating despite AICC general secretary in charge C P Joshi’s visit to Shillong and a meeting with the Congress MLAs. The entire Congress contingent of MLAs had joined the ruling NPF in Nagaland, leaving the party in tatters. There is discontent among MLAs in Manipur despite cosmetic changes announced by the AICC.
In Tripura, its leader of the opposition Sudip Roy Barman has joined the Trinamool Congress along with 5 MLAs. The Congress is left with only 4 MLAs. The party is virtually non-existent in Sikkim. So even as the BJP is working overtime to make inroads into the North East after its victory in Assam, the Congress is still groping in the dark.
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