ITANAGAR: A day after 43 of the 44 Congress MLAs had virtually put the grand old party on the mat in Arunachal Pradesh through their en masse defection to People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), Chief Minister Pema Khandu, who is one of the defectors, is understood to have been working overtime to try and persuade former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki, the lone MLA left in the Congress, to join PPA.
“Pema had requested Tuki to join the PPA but he hasn’t given any commitment so far,” PPA chairman Kamen Ringu told Express. Khandu was not available for comments and the Chief Minister’s Office said “he is not feeling well today”.
If Tuki defects to PPA, which appears very unlikely, the Congress would cease to have any representation in the current Assembly. In the 2014 Assembly polls, the party had grabbed 47 of the 60 seats and formed the government.
Like Khandu, Tuki kept himself confined to his private residence in Itanagar on Saturday and met very few visitors.
One of those he met was Minister Rajesh Tacho. What transpired in that meeting was in the realms of speculations.
“He has for long been a die-hard Congress worker. We don’t think he is going to defect to PPA, or for that matter, any party,” a PPA leader said requesting not to be named.
The BJP too felt Tuki would not desert the Congress.
“Among the Congress leaders, he is one of the most loyal workers. I don’t think he will take such a step,” a BJP leader, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said.
Meanwhile, the BJP has held the central leadership of the Congress responsible for the party’s upset in the frontier state. The BJP said the Congress suffered as it had failed to bring its house in order.
“The entire responsibility goes to the Congress’ central leadership. After the Supreme Court judgement (that reinstated the Tuki government), all Congress MLAs, who had earlier sided with former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul and PPA, made a comeback to Congress. But the Congress leadership failed to resolve the party’s internal problems. That precisely was the reason why all of them merged with PPA again,” BJP state president Tapir Gao told Express.
He said the state’s current poor fiscal position, caused by huge debts, had also played a part in the defection.
To a query, Gao said the BJP’s participation in the Khandu government would depend on instructions from the party leadership.
Asked about the stability of Khandu led PPA government, he said: “I cannot foretell anything about the non-BJP MLAs”.