India: Congress loses Arunachal Pradesh yet again, 43 lawmakers including chief minister walk out

Mizoram governor V Shanmuganathan, who is Arunachal's interim governor, is not in Itanagar, and, hence, it may take some time before Khandu (in picture) takes fresh oath. Photograph:( Twitter )

New Delhi, India Sep 17, 2016, 03.17 AM (IST)

Just two months after it came to power, the Congress lost its government in the eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh on Friday as 43 of its 44 lawmakers led by chief minister Pema Khandu merged with the People's Party of Arunachal,  a regional party owing allegiance to the India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). 

The Congress government had come to power two months back after Khandu and his group of Congress rebels deserted the PPA to return to the grand old party to form the government.

Khandu, who replaced Nabam Tuki following a dissident campaign in July, paraded  the 42 members of legislative assembly (MLA) before assembly speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok, Indian news agency PTI reported. The assembly sources said the speaker accepted their joining the PPA.  

Khandu had become the chief minister on July 16 following months of political turmoil that unseated Tuki, who himself was reinstated as chief minister by the apex court only two days before. The Supreme Court ruling had overturned BJP government formed by Congress rebels headed by Kalikho Pul, who was forced to resign on July 13. 

The merger would be notified in the assembly bulletin, formalising the political development that leaves Congress, one of India's largest political parties, with governments only in Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram in the northeast.

NEDA convenor and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarmah was quoted as saying that with PPA entering the NEDA, in which the 11-member BJP has considerable influence, "the Khandu government is for all purposes an NDA government (ruling the country)."  

Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the Congress dubbed the new government in Arunachal as an "illegitimate child of BJP" and "a diabolical design to decimate democracy".

The Congress had 44 lawmakers in a house of 60. However, following chief minister Kalikho Pul's death, one seat had fallen vacant. BJP, on the other hand, 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 February 19 for a short span, according to PTI. 

(WION with inputs from PTI)