Dramatic turnaround in Arunachal Pradesh as Pul rejoins Cong lBJP’s plan to make NE ‘Congress-free’ suffers a body blow
Itanagar: In a dramatic turnaround in Arunachal Pradesh, the Congress on Saturday replaced Chief Minister Nabam Tuki by choosing a new leader Pema Khandu, who staked claim to power on the basis of support of 45 party MLAs along with two Independents.
In fast-changing developments, Khaliko Pul, rebel-turned chief minister, who was unseated by the Supreme Court, returned to the party fold with 30 dissident MLAs.
Hours ahead of a scheduled floor test in the Assembly, which Tuki was directed by Governor Tathagat Roy to take, the Congress Legislature Party met and elected 37-year-old Pema Khandu, son of late chief minister Dorjee Khandu, as its new leader.
Tuki proposed the name of Khandu, which was unanimously accepted by 44 MLAs who were present. Speaker Nabam Rebia did not attend the meeting while ousted chief minister Khaliko Pul attended the meeting with the rebel MLAs.
In the 60-member House with an effective strength of 58, Congress now claims the support of 47 MLAs, including two independents.
The development comes as a setback for the BJP that had backed rebel leader Pul, who walked out of the party in November with 20 other MLAs, and formed the government with support from the saffron party.
Raj Bhavan officials said since Khandu did not want to take oath on a Saturday,so the oath taking will take place on Sunday.
Ahead of the CLP meeting, Tuki met the Governor and told him of his intention to resign as CLP chief and as chief minister and of the Congress party’s decision to elect a new leader.
He told reporters in the presence of Khandu that in view of these developments he told the Governor that he would not be taking a floor test.
Khandu also told the media that he has staked claim to power with the Governor on the basis of support of 47 MLAs, including two independents.
Khandu said, “Now there are no differences and the Congress is united at the intervention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi.”
Tuki, who went to the Governor along with Khandu and handed over his resignation, acknowledged that there were problems in the party and compared them to differences within a home.
“I was repeatedly asked in the last few days and I used to say that Congress is strong in Arunachal Pradesh and is united. Now 47 out of 60 MLAs are with us,” he said.
The outgoing chief minister said the BJP sought to break Arunachal Pradesh and divide and finish the Congress party.
On his election as CLP leader, Khandu said “it’s a big challenge as expectations are high”.
Khandu, a graduate from Hindu College in Delhi, was inducted in the Tuki ministry in 2011 after his father died in a plane crash in Arunachal Pradesh.
He was later given the portfolio of Tourism and Water Resource Development department. Khandu, however, resigned from the Tuki cabinet in 2014.
Meanwhile, buoyed over the party’s unity in Arunachal Pradesh, Congress has said people and legislators have rejected politics of defections and unseating of elected governments in the state and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah should draw lessons in democratic values.
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said those who sought to keep constitutional principles aside, decimating them at the altar of power politics, have been shown the strength of democracy in the state.
“The Supreme Court and now people of Arunachal Pradesh and the Legislatures of Arunachal Pradesh have decisively rejected the politics of defections and of unseating elected Governments through a concerted well planned and executed conspiracy. (Agencies)