The return of rebels to the Congress in Aruanchal Pradesh on Saturday to diffuse a political crisis was a bolt from the blue for many, including the BJP. But former chief minister Nabam Tuki had it planned over two months.
The rebels, led by former chief minister Kalikho Pul, had formed the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) government that the Supreme Court virtually de-recognised by turning the state’s political clock to what it showed on December 15 last year. Tuki was heading the Congress government then.
“It did not happen in a day, as you might be inclined to think. I was in touch with the rebels for two months, telling them how the case in the SC would pan out. And since the problem of some of them was with my leadership, I promised to step down to ensure the Congress government remains,” Tuki told Hindustan Times.
Tuki blamed BJP president Amit Shah and union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju for creating the trouble in the state.
“They herded the rebels in a five-star hotel in Guwahati and thought they had things in control. But I managed to convince 21 of the 30 rebels to come home to Congress the night before the floor test was scheduled (Saturday).”
The remaining rebels, including Pul, joined the party Saturday morning. And the rest, as they say, is history.
“The BJP did not get wind of what was happening. It was taken by surprise. But I have an advice for the party that wants to rid India of Congress: Read the Constitution thoroughly before you start needling the Congress-ruled states. The BJP was non-existent when the Constitution was written, so it is yet to learn how to go by it,” Tuki said.
But, Tuki said, he has nothing against Pul. “He did not say anything. But I told him you are my younger brother, and we don’t have any permanent enmity. Politics is like this; there cannot be permanent enemies but there can be permanent friend.”
Pul, though, sulked after he hugged Tuki at new chief minister Pema Khandu’s swearing-in ceremony . He said the Congress misinterpreted the SC judgement and scared the PPA legislators into believing they would be disqualified.
“There was a Gauhati high court verdict that legitimised the PPA, but this thing happened too fast for us to do anything,” Pul said, adding he was glad to be back among friends and assured he would play a constructive role in Khandu’s new Congress government.