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 2016, paraded 42 MLAs before Assembly Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok, who accepted their joining the PPA, an ally of the BJP, Assembly sources said.
The move would be notified in the Assembly bulletin, formalising the political development that leaves the 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 the PPA, a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) which was formed on May 24 in Guwahati. Khandu became Chief Minister on July 16 after months of political turmoil that unseated Tuki, who himself was reinstated as Chief Minister by the apex court only two days before.