A costly dinner has made two Congress legislators in dissidence-troubled Arunachal Pradesh ‘quit’ the state assembly.
Gabriel Denwang Wangsu and Wanglam Sawin denied having resigned as MLAs after assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia issued an acceptance notice on Monday.
They said they were made to sign undated photocopies of a letter at a dinner hosted by chief minister Nabam Tuki on September 16. Those turned out to be ‘irrevocable resignation letters’ that the Speaker, the notification said, received that night.
Wangsu, representing Kanubari assembly seat, and his Khonsa East counterpart Sawin reportedly belonged to the dissident camp led by former finance minister Kalilo Pul.
The state Congress committee had a couple of months ago expelled Pul for anti-party activities. He bounced back after challenging the expulsion in court.
Soon after the resignation notice was issued, Wangsu and Swain wrote to the Speaker requesting him “not to accept the undated resignation letter if submitted to you by anybody on our behalf at any point of time”.
They further said the resignation letters “may be treated as invalid, null and void until and unless we submit them personally”.
But with the notification under Rule 200 of Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Legislative Assembly effectively sealing their fate, the strength of the Congress in the 60-member House has come down to 45. Dissident leader Pul claims the support of more than 30 of them.
The BJP has 11 legislators while two other MLAs are independents.
Sawin was one of five People’s Party of Arunachal MLAs who joined the Congress on December 20 last year.
Arunachal Pradesh has had a history of political upheavals with governments changing party colours overnight. In 2003, most of the Congress legislators switched over to BJP to gift the latter its first government in the northeast.