Suspended Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Friday claimed the support of 49 MLAs, hours after his Peoples’ Party of Arunachal suspended him and six other legislators for “anti-party activities”, PTI reported. A government spokesperson said 35 party legislators, 12 Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs, one lawmaker associated with the BJP and one independent had pledged support to the ousted leader’s administration.
“Everything is going normally as usual and the Chief Minister is still enjoying absolute majority from the PPA, the BJP and independent MLAs,” government spokesperson Bamang Felix said. The claim came hours after the PPA chose its MLA Takam Pario to be the next chief minister of the state. The PPA held a meeting earlier on Friday to decide on the new chief minister, and will submit Pario’s name to Governor V Shanmuganathan, party president Kamen Ringu had said.
Khandu and the six other MLAs were suspended on Thursday. These include deputy chief minister Chowna Mein, Jambey Tashi, Passang Dorjee Sona, Zingnu Namchom and Kamlung Mossang, and Chow Tewa Mein.
The state has been battling severe political instability for more than a year now. In December 2015, a number of Congress legislators had revolted against then chief minister Nabam Tuki. One of the dissidents, Kalikho Pul, took over the post in February with the help of 11 Bharatiya Janata Party lawmakers. In July, the Supreme Court reversed this development, reinstating Tuki. However, Tuki did not have the support of a majority of the Congress legislators, after which Khandu, a Congress member at the time, took over.
Kalikho Pul had committed suicide in August. In October, Khandu and 43 other MLAs defected from the Congress and joined the PPA, a regional party. The PPA, BJP and other regional parties are part of the North East Democratic Alliance.