Reinstated Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki has sought more time from the governor to prove his strength in the assembly after a decision to schedule the floor test on July 16 surprised many.
The decision on floor test, Tuki said, was “hasty” and “completely unwarranted”.
In a letter to governor Tathagata Roy late Thursday night – a few hours after occupying the chief minister’s office at 3:45pm – Tuki cited the Sarkaria Commission’s recommendations on holding a floor test to justify his plea for “reasonable time” – usually taken to be 30 days.
“The direction to prove my majority on the floor of the house on or before July 16 gives me less than 48 hours’ time since my arrival in Itanagar today. Many of my colleagues/MLAs are out of station and I am trying to contact them,” the Congress leader said.
The “extremely short” duration of time for holding the floor test to prove his majority not later than Saturday was inadequate and unwarranted, he said and added that the decision was taken in haste.
But the Raj Bhavan in Arunachal Pradesh said it has not received the letter. “We have not yet (about 11 am) received the letter from the chief minister seeking time. We stand by the governor’s notification for trial of strength on or before Saturday, the 16th of July,” a Raj Bhavan spokesperson told HT.
Tuki was ousted as CM earlier this year after a rebellion in the Congress led to the imposition of President’s Rule in the state. The breakaway faction, led by Kalikho Pul, formed the government with support from the BJP.
But on Wednesday, the Supreme Court restored Tuki’s government, quashing all decisions made by the governor.
But experts indicate the Congress has an uphill task in proving its majority as it has just 15 members in the 60-member assembly. The current strength of the assembly is 58 because of two resignations.
Tuki has said he has reached out to the dissidents but the quick floor test might spoil his plans.
In his letter, Tuki reminded the governor that the Sarkaria panel recommended “reasonable time” for the assembly to be summoned for a chief minister to prove his majority.
The panel’s report said: “What is reasonable will depend on the circumstances of each case. Generally, a period of 30 days will be reasonable unless there is very urgent business to be transacted, such as passing the budget, in which case a shorter period may be indicated.”
Even the Justice Punchahi Commission’s report of March 2000 on Centre-state relations has endorsed the Sarkaria panel’s recommendations for holding floor tests, Tuki said.
The Punchahi panel recommendations were followed by the Supreme Court’s five-judge constitution bench in case that led to the reinstatement of the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh, the chief minister said.
Because of the state’s topography and communication bottlenecks, the MLAs in far-flung areas would not be able to come to Itanagar for the floor test, Tuki said.
“Besides, a meeting of the cabinet will be convened soon to decide the date for convening the sixth session of the sixth Arunachal Pradesh legislative assembly. Therefore, in consultation with the Speaker (Nabam Rebia), the governor will have to be requested to summon the house accordingly.”
Meanwhile, Chowna Mein, who was deputy chief minister during Kalikho Pul’s four-month rule, said all the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) legislators camping in Guwahati would be reaching Itanagar by Friday evening for Saturday’s floor test.
The 60-member assembly, with an effective strength of 58 because of resignations, has 30 PPA legislators. But Tuki said the SC judgement automatically made them Congress MLAs again.
The 30 were Congress MLAs who revolted against Tuki, formed a rebel Congress government under Pul on February 19 and merged with the regional PPA in March. The BJP with 11 legislators and two independents had backed Pul’s PPA government.
Including Tuki, the Congress has 15 MLAs. “But we now have 45 MLAs because the SC order has turned the clock back and erased everything that happened after December 15 last year,”