2016 turned out to be a watershed year in the political history of Arunachal Pradesh as it plunged into months-long political turmoil that saw three Chief Ministers in a short span besides imposition of President’s rule for a brief period.
In the long-drawn political drama, Governor J P Rajkhowa was dismissed on September 22. Observers say this was apparently because he had failed to ‘ensure a lasting BJP-led or BJP-blessed government’ in the State.
Dasanglu Pul, the third wife of former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul won the November 19 bye-election to Hayuliang constituency on a BJP ticket. The bypoll was held following the death of Kalikho Pul. He was found hanging inside the Chief Minister’s official bungalow on August 9, which he was yet to vacate.
A power scam amounting to Rs 450 crore also surfaced in the state in which allegations of corruption were leveled against Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju.
Opposition Congress demanded ouster of Rijiju from the union council of ministers and a CBI probe even as the BJP leader denied the allegations.
The political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh
The political crisis in the frontier state stemmed from the ouster of Pul from the Council of Ministers in April 2015. Soon after his exit, Pul went about spilling the beans on the poor financial health of the State under the then Chief Minister Nabam Tuki’s leadership.
Pul was also terminated from Congress though he managed to get a stay on the same from the courts. Soon some more legislators from the total 47 Congress members joined him in demanding a change in leadership.
The crisis deepened after President Pranab Mukherjee on January 26 gave his approval to the cabinet’s recommendation for the state to be put under President’s rule. On January 5, the Gauhati High Court stayed disqualification of 14 Congress MLAs while on January 6,the Supreme Court agreed to hear plea of the Arunachal Speaker, removed by rebel MLAs.
The apex court on January 13 ordered not to hold any proceedings in the Assembly till January 18 while referring the issue to a Constitution Bench the next day. The Supreme Court on January 15 started examining constitutional scope of discretionary powers of the Governor.
On February 18, the apex court satisfied with Gauhati High Court’s order staying disqualification of 14 MLAs, paved way for new government in the state. The court rejected Congress’ plea for floor test in the assembly on February 19, the day when President rule was lifted from the state. Pul was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the state on February 20.
In a sudden turn of events, the Supreme Court on July 13 while terming Governor’s decision as ‘unconstitutional’ ordered restoration of Tuki-led Congress government in the state.
Tuki, however, almost immediately stepped down, making way for Pema Khandu to take charge of the Congress government on July 16.
Exactly two months after the apex court restored the Congress government in the state, the BJP on September 16 pulled the carpet from below the ruling party’s feet by getting the entire CLP – except former chief minister Tuki – to join the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA), a constituent of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
However, Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) President Padi Richo on November challenged the merger of Congress MLAs to PPA in the Itanagar permanent bench of Gauhati High Court and the verdict is yet to be pronounced.
The Congress Legislature Party merging with the PPA came three days after a section of Congress MLAs approaching the BJP central leadership in New Delhi and expressing their desire to merge with it.
The political developments moved so fast that Pul, the man who had led the original rebellion in the Congress was left in the lurch as all his followers too reverted to the Congress within less than 24 hours of the July 13 Supreme Court order. Twenty-four days later, Pul was found hanging.
Altercation with China
US Ambassador Richard Verma’s visit to Tawang led to China saying it would damage the “hard-earned peace and tranquillity in the China-India border region. China also protested the visit of Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje to Tawang and West Kameng districts of the state.
On November 17, Chinese Embassy at New Delhi denied visa to Arunachal Pradesh State Badminton Association Secretary Bamang Tago, who was nominated manager of the Indian badminton team for the Thaihot China Open championship in Fuzhou. Incidents of transgression by Chinese Army into Arunachal’s territory were also reported during the year.