The Congress on Friday lost its government in Arunachal Pradesh when 43 of its MLAs led by chief minister Pema Khandu defected wholesale and merged with the People’s Party of Arunachal, just two months after it had regained power.
Khandu, who had replaced Nabam Tuki following a dissident campaign in July, paraded 42 MLAs before Assembly Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok, who accepted their joining the PPA, Assembly sources said.
The merger would be notified in the Assembly bulletin, formalising the political development that leaves Congress with governments only in Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the northeast.
The dramatic development in Arunachal Pradesh brought back memories of the famous ‘aya ram, gaya ram’ episode involving Bhajan Lal who was heading a Janata Party government in Haryana and defected lock, stock, and barrel with all the party MLAs to the Congress after Indira Gandhi came back to power in 1980.
Tuki was the only Congress MLA who did not join PPA, a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) which was formed on 24 May in Guwahati.
Khandu on 16 July had become the chief minister after months of political turmoil that unseated Tuki, who himself was reinstated as chief minister by the apex court only two days before.
In a House of 60, the Congress had 44 MLAs with one seat falling vacant after former chief minister Kalikho Pul committed suicide on 9 August, while the BJP has 11 members including two Independents.
The status of two Congress MLAs is yet to be decided as they put in their papers before the recent series of political developments that led to first Tuki government falling in January this year, imposition of President’s rule and installation of the late Kalikho Pul government on 19 February for a short span.
Pul was forced to resign in July 13 following a Supreme Court judgement. On 3 March last, Pul along with 29 Congress MLAs joined the PPA.
PPA CWC chairman Kameng Ringu termed the development as a “homecoming” after a short temporary self exile of the party.
(With PTI inputs)