When Pema Khandu was sworn in as the youngest Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh on 17 July this year, it looked like the political instability in Arunachal Pradesh might finally come to an end. Two former Chief Ministers of the State, Nabam Tuki and Kalikho Pul were all smiles and happily posing for the camera. However, the happiness was short lived. Within two months, the State has found itself in doldrums once again. First, former Chief Minister Kalikho Pul who was replaced by Khandu mysteriously committed suicide. Now, as per latest news, 42 Congress MLAs including Chief Minister Khandu have decided to join People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA). PPA is an ally of BJP and is a part of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) currently run by Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Ironically, it is only former Chief Minister Nabam Tuki who has not deserted Congress as of yet. The Congress’s previous government led by Nabam Tuki had collapsed after Congress rebels joined hands with the BJP and voted it out in a special session held at a makeshift venue.
After a period of central rule, Congress rebels led by Kalikho Pul took power with support from the BJP. That government lasted only five months as the Supreme Court reinstated the previous government.
Indecisiveness of Congress
The reason behind such a mass exodus of lawmakers from Congress is not clear yet. Sources say the Congress MLAs crossed over to PPA with hopes of securing more funds for the State from the BJP-led government at Centre. Another section says that this was inevitable due to the internal conflict within Congress. BJP just used the prevailing situation to their advantage.
The indecisiveness of the Congress High command has again come to the fore after this incident. The fact that Nabam Tuki had to resign even after the Congress government was restored by Supreme Court in July meant that he didn’t have the confidence to pass the floor test. This also showed that Congress had lost support but their High Command was not ready to take the signal.
Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) however alleges that the entire episode of political instability has been masterminded by BJP. Referring to the recent sacking of Governor Jyoti Prasad Rajkhowa, APCC President Padi Richo said, ‘Rajkhowa succumbed to pressure tactics of ‘double-standard’ BJP party and when they failed to install a BJP Govt in the State, they blamed and sacked Rajkhowa as Governor of Arunachal Pradesh to hide their own misdeeds.’
It is not a secret that BJP President Amit Shah has set his eyes on the Northeast. They have already formed government in Assam for the first time. Nagaland is run by their ally Nagaland People’s Front (NPF). Penetrating the Left bastion in Tripura might be a far cry for the saffron brigade as of yet. So, it is the Congress ruled states like Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh, which they are now targeting. This is the major reason behind forming NEDA. They have already been successful in Arunachal Pradesh. Things are not looking very rosy for Congress in Meghalaya and Manipur as these two states are grappling with internal dissidence. We won’t be surprised to see Congress ousted from these two states in the next election.
Right now, there is no possibility of the government falling. As Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein said, ‘There is no question of the government falling. It is now a PPA government with Pema Khandu as chief minister.’ However, we can never say for sure, considering the name of the State is Arunachal Pradesh.
Since January 1999 till July 2016, Arunachal Pradesh has witnessed eight chief ministers, none of whom managed to complete their tenure of five years. Politics in Arunachal Pradesh has literally become a circus. People of the state are tired of this political instability. This is taking a heavy toll on the development and growth of the state as well. We can just hope that in the coming days, politics in the state will be able to breathe free from the poisonous atmosphere prevailing presently. And we will see the state embarking on a new journey of prosperity and development. Or is it a bit too much to ask?