The rebel Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh headed by Kalikho Pul on Thursday transformed into that of a regional party – People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) – lock, stock and barrel.
Governor JP Rajkhowa welcomed the ‘merger’ of Pul’s team of 30 rebel Congress MLAs with the PPA that ironically had merged with the Congress months after winning five seats in the 2014 assembly election.
“We had no intention of leaving the Congress, but all doors were closed. As a regional party now, we shall try our best to address the genuine grievances of the people of this state,” Pul said after the switchover following a marathon meeting.
The meeting was held at the Nokmey Nimatey Hall in Naharlagun, which along with Itanagar forms Arunachal Pradesh’s twin capital complex.
PPA working committee chairman Kameng Ringu welcomed the 30 rebel Congress MLAs into his party. “Today’s development is good for the state because the high command culture will no longer prevent us from administering the state according to our needs,” he said.
Neither Pul nor his aides specified if PPA would be a constituent of NDA, but they said the BJP would provide them outside support.
The BJP, however, hopes to be a part of the government. “There is no hurdle, since this is no longer a Congress government,” BJP legislature party chief Tamio Taga said.
The BJP has 11 legislators, and along with two independent MLAs, Pul enjoys the support of 43 MLAs in the 60-member assembly with an effective strength of 48. Two Congress legislators had quit last year amid the tussle between Pul and his predecessor Nabam Tuki.
The two-year-old rivalry snowballed into dissension leading to the dismissal of Tuki’s government and imposition of President’s Rule on January 26. Pul was sworn in as chief minister on February 19 after the central rule was lifted.
The size of the Tuki camp reduced from 26, as MLAs loyal to him switched allegiance to Pul in the next few days.
“Now that everything has been settled, the council of ministers will be sworn in soon,” Honipa Yangfo, former Youth Congress general secretary and Pul aide, told Hindustan Times.