The political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh refuses to blow over with the Union cabinet on Wednesday deciding to recommend revocation of President’s rule in the northeastern state, only for the Supreme Court to order hours later that status quo be maintained till it examined records on the disqualification of 14 rebel Congress MLAs.
The cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi recommended to the President that the central rule be lifted, a day after the top court refused to restrain the state’s governor, JP Rajkhowa, from swearing in a new government.
On Monday, 32 MLAs led by Congress dissident Kalikho Pul had called on Rajkhowa to stake claim to form the government. They comprised 19 Congress rebels, 11 BJP legislators and two independent members in the 60-member assembly.
Arunachal descended into chaos in December when 21 of the ruling Congress’s 47 MLAs rebelled and 11 BJP legislators backed them in a bid to pull the rug from under the Nabam Tuki government. Later, 14 rebel Congress MLAs were disqualified. The governor then called an assembly session in which the deputy speaker revoked the disqualification of the 14 and removed the speaker. The state finally came under central rule on January 26.
In a last-ditch effort, the Congress has tried to pacify the rebels but they are insistent on Tuki’s removal as legislature party leader. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi met the dissidents and assured them their “genuine grievances” would be addressed.
Later, senior leaders Kamal Nath and Salman Khurshid held negotiations with them but these, too, failed. The Congress has refused to accept the demand to replace Tuki as chief minister as it would set a wrong precedent, sources said. Tuki is said to have the support of 26 MLAs.
The Supreme Court directed the secretary general of the Arunachal assembly and the Gauhati high court registry to furnish records on the disqualification of the MLAs preferably by Thursday.
The court, hearing a batch of petition against the imposition of President’s rule in the state and examining the scope of the discretionary powers of governors, will take up the matter on Thursday.