Sworn in as the eighth chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh in February, Kalikho Pul was perhaps the only CM to have led a Congress government propped by archrivals the BJP.
But, Pul, who rose in revolt against Nabam Tuki with a group of dissident MLAs, never really broke away from the Congress, or so he said.
He was a “Congressman at heart” who took the BJP’s support only to end a “reign of corruption”, the 47-year-old said before the Supreme Court cut short his reign in July.
Pul was found dead in Itanagar on Tuesday. He allegedly hanged himself at the chief minister’s residence, which he was yet to vacate.
Belonging to the Kaman Mishmi tribe, which has a population of just 2,500, the five-time MLA hailed from Walla village in eastern Arunachal Pradesh’s Anjaw district – among the most backward – that bore the brunt of the 1962 Chinese aggression.
He lost his parents early and had to do odds jobs to put himself through school. A bachelor of arts, Pul was into social activism and was associated with several educational institutes in Anjaw district. He joined the Congress as a teenager in 1980s.
He made his assembly debut in 1995 as Hayulliang MLA and was given his first ministerial assignment. Pul always found a way to get close to the chief minister – from Gegong Apang to Dorjee Khandu and Tuki. Perhaps that explains his long ministerial stint during which he was responsible for finance, power and health ministries.
The first blow came in December 2014 when he was dropped from the council of ministers. Almost a year later, backed by the BJP, he led a revolt against Tuki and got to be the CM for around four months. Though the Supreme Court ousted him, the Congress gave into the rebels’ demand and replaced Tuki with Pema Khandu. Seated in the front row at Khandu’s swearing in, Pul the rebel had made way for the pragmatic politician. “I always follow my heart and did what I thought was right. Now the court order has come and I am following the court order,” he said.
He is survived by three wives and four sons.