The Congress suffered a major setback on Friday as Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu exited the party along with 42 other state legislators to join the Peoples Party of Arunachal, PTI reported. This is the second time in seven months that the PPA, an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party, will form a government in the north-eastern state.
Khandu said he had informed the state Assembly’s speaker about the legislators’ decision to merge with the PPA. Only former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki opted to remain within the Congress. PPA chairperson Kameng Ringu called the move a “homecoming for our PPA leaders after a temporary self-exile”, according to Hindustan Times.
However, he denied that the BJP had a role in the exodus. The Congress MLAs switched to the PPA with the hopes of securing more funds for the state from the central government, the report quoted sources as saying.
The PPA now has 42 MLAs in the 60-member Assembly, while the BJP has 11 legislators. Two MLAs are Independent and one seat was vacated after former chief minister Kalikho Pul committed suicide on August 9.
Friday's events come around two months after the Supreme Court ordered the restoration of the Congress government in the state. Khandu proved his party’s majority in the Arunachal Assembly days after the order.