The Arunachal story

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Eight months after the Congress Government was dismissed in Arunachal Pradesh, the wheel has come full circle. The entire bunch of Congress MLAs, barring one, has crossed over to the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) backed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, signaling doom of the Congress regime in the North-East State. This is sweet success for the BJP which had to bite the dust after the Supreme Court had in July restored the dismissed Nabam Tuki Government. The party had taken the blow on its chin and waited for the fault lines that continued to exist in the State Congress structure, to play out. Its key North- East leader and convenor of the political umbrella, the North East Democratic Alliance, Himanta Biswa Sarma, worked behind the scenes.
Eventually on Friday, 43 Congress Legislators including Chief Minister Pema Khandu switched over to the PPA, giving the regional formation an overwhelming majority in the 60-member Assembly. Incidentally, the only MLA who remained with the Congress was its former Chief Minister Tuki, against whom the rebellion had originally started, triggering a long period of political unrest. While there has been a great deal of speculation on what prompted this wholesale shift, what is clear is that the Congress’s central leadership had failed to get a grip on party affairs in Arunachal Pradesh. It could not capitalise on the relief the Supreme Court had provided to its Government. Instead of learning lessons and doing a course-correction, it continued with its earlier nonchalance, paying little attention to the demands and concerns of its elected representatives in the State.
It must be recalled that, when a few MLAs had rebelled eight months ago, their grievance was that the Congress high command, in particular party vice president Rahul Gandhi, had been unsupportive of their grievances. This is precisely the situation today as well. The 43 Legislators who crossed over have expressed hope that, being on the same side as that of the ruling party at the Centre, they will be able to deliver on the assurances they have given to the people. But there is no denying that this is not the only reason. It has been reported that Khandu had met Rahul Gandhi some days. That obviously did not yield result and the internal problems remained unsorted, and subsequently exploded in the form of the latest development. Given the political turmoil of the past months, the people of Arunachal Pradesh deserve a stable Government which performs. This remains the biggest challenge for the new dispensation. The advantage of numbers must not lull it into complacence. Employment and economic growth are the key issues the regime must focus on. Arunachal Pradesh is also a sensitive border State, and development of the region is crucial for India to retain an edge. Meanwhile, political analysts are watching with interest the impact the latest twist will have on other States of the North-East. All eyes are on Manipur especially, where too the Congress is facing trouble under Chief Minister Ibobi Singh’s leadership. One of its senior Congress leaders, Yumkham Erabot, recently quit the party. The State votes for a new Assembly early in 2017. And then there is Meghalaya, where again the Congress is being
challenged from within.

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