In a major embarrassment to the Congress and its President Sonia Gandhi, 43 of its 44 MLAs in the 60-member Arunachal Pradesh including Chief Minister Pema Khandu defected to the regional People’s Party.
It was only on July 17 that Pema Khandu was sworn in as the ninth Chief Minister of the politically unstable state.
Pema Khandu on twitter said: “Decision to join PPA, was taken in best interest of state and was unanimous decision of all INC MLAs.”
The Congress put the blame on BJP for orchestrating the defection of its MLAs while calling the People’s Party as an illegitimate child of the saffron party.
Minister of Home Affairs of India Kiren Rijiju on the latest developments said “The Congress tried to blame the BJP unnecessarily. If MLAs don’t want to stay with Congress then what can we do? The SC also reinstated the Congress government but ultimately the MLAs’ decision is the final.”
Out of the 44 Congress MLAs who bid goodbye to the party, former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki was the only one to show his loyalty to the Congress as he resisted the defection. It can be noted that Tuki was replaced by Pema Khandu in July as part of Congress’ efforts to control the rebellion in its ranks.
A Supreme Court judgment in July removed the government led by the late rebel Congress leader Kalikho Puli, who was sworn in February 2016, with the support of 18 dissident Congress MLAs, two independents along with 11 BJP MLAs who gave it outside support. This judgment is considered as a historical while paving way to Nabam Tuki to become the CM.
Kalikho Pul, who was forced to resign as the Chief Minister, committed suicide last month, giving indications that he was clearly upset by the apex court judgment.
In a total of 60 MLAs in the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly, 47 were from Congress, 11 MLAs are from BJP and two independent MLAs who supported the Congress.