GUWAHATI: Politically-unstable Arunachal Pradesh is headed towards another court battle following Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s suspension by his People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA).
Khandu’s camp claimed that there was no threat to his government as he still enjoys the support of 49 of the 60 MLAs — 35 from his People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), 12 from the BJP and two Independents.
The PPA has 43 MLAs of which seven, including Khandu and Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, were suspended on Thursday night for alleged anti-party activities. The Congress has three MLAs. “There’s no threat to the Khandu government. He has the support of 49 MLAs,” government spokesman B Felix told Express.
The BJP, whom the Congress had accused of engineering dissidence within the party and dislodging the Nabam Tuki government in January, also claimed that Khandu enjoyed the support of most PPA MLAs.
“The BJP stands behind Pema as he is the NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) chief minister. This is an internal matter of PPA and we don’t want to meddle in it. However, if it is a question of NEDA leadership, BJP will stand behind Pema,” BJP’s Arunachal unit president Tapir Gao told Express. “At this juncture, he (Pema) has got the requisite number,” he claimed.
NEDA is a conglomerate of non-Congress political parties of Northeast where BJP is a major player. The party is a constituent of Arunachal’s two-party ruling coalition where PPA calls the shots. Wary that PPA leadership might move court challenging the Constitutional validity of a suspended legislator’s continuance as chief minister, Khandu’s camp is planning to examine the legality of the suspension order, which was issued by PPA president Kahfa Bengia.
“We’re looking into the legal aspect. We’ll legally scrutinise the locus standi of the suspension order,” a source close to Khandu said. The PPA leaders were busy attending a series of meetings on Friday and as such, their next move was in the realms of speculations. They had more or less decided on making Takam Tagar (Pario), the State’s richest MLA, as the next chief minister.
Earlier in the day, Pario claimed he had the support of most party MLAs. “Yes, it’s true only my name is doing the rounds for PPA Legislature Party leader. I’ve the support of all PPA MLAs and party leadership,” he claimed.
PPA chairman Kamen Ringu said the action against the seven MLAs was taken as they kept neglecting the party.
“They never came to party office or discussed issues with PPA leadership. That caused full resentment in party ranks and files. He did whatever he liked and wanted. He has not convened a single meeting of NEDA. He has totally failed to coordinate in the interests of PPA. He destroyed our camp and allowed other parties to grow,” the PPA chairman alleged. He said the PPA had got reports from “BJP circles that he is on the verge of merging PPA with BJP.