Amid speculations that chief minister Pema Khandu People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) may soon merge with the BJP, the only Congress MLA left in the state has reminded his ex-party colleagues of an elusive special package that made them leave the Congress.
Last month, 43 of 44 MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh had quit the Congress to form the regional People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) government. Only former chief minister Nabam Tuki, who went to court for the restoration of the Congress government in the state on July 13, stayed back.
The centre had dismissed Tuki’s Congress government on January 26 which paved the way for a rebel Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh less than a month later.
“It’s sad that my friends left the Congress. They said they did it for the sake of the state’s development. The BJP did all that it could like imposing President’s Rule and using (former) governor JP Rajkhowa. Now, it has to compensate by releasing the special package of Rs 25,000-crore which the PM committed. But the Centre is only giving lip service for the last two-and-a-half years,” Tuki told Hindustan Times.
Tuki said the special package was one of the reasons why the Congress MLAs defected to PPA and be part of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. The other was the fear that the Centre would choke flow of funds to Arunachal Pradesh.
“I did not succumb to Delhi’s threat-and-allurement pressure policy but the others did. Congress is like my maa (mother). How can one change one’s mother?” Tuki said.
The former chief minister said one needs to stand by his or her party during the most difficult of times. “Small, resource-deficient states like Arunachal Pradesh are dependent on the Centre. But it is not fair to leave the Congress when it is not in power at the Centre.”
Assuring the Pema Khandu government of his cooperation in development initiatives, Tuki reminded it of the numerous visits by union ministers to the state. “One has to keep in mind that these visits have not yielded any fiscal benefit for Arunachal Pradesh.”
Tuki said he was being approached to join the PPA but his conscience “will not make me betray the Congress”.
The BJP, he said, would never conquer his integrity despite succeeding in luring away all his MLAs and dislodging the Congress government. “I beat them in the 2014 assembly polls. Later, during the height of dissidence against me, they lost the battle against me in the Supreme Court. I will beat them in the next elections.”
Tuki joined the Congress in 1979 and became the president of the Arunachal Pradesh unit of NSUI seven years later. In 1988, he became the Pradesh Youth Congress president.
He lost his first assembly election in 1990 by 47 votes but never lost after winning his first assembly seat in 1995. He won unopposed twice in 2004 and 2014.