Thirty-three legislators from the People’s Party of Arunachal, including Chief Minister Pema Khandu, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday, PTI reported. This brings the number of legislators the PPA has in the house to 10. The announcement came amid ongoing fracas in the state, after Pema Khandu was temporarily suspended from the party, along with seven other MLAs. On Saturday, the PPA had suspended four more of its legislators, bringing the number to 11. Khandu was accused of trying to merge his party with the BJP, The Times of India reported.
Earlier on Saturday, a government spokesperson had said that 35 PPA legislators, 12 Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs one lawmaker associated with the BJP and one independent had pledged support to the ousted leader’s administration. “MLAs get temporary suspension orders without a showcause notice,” Khandu said. “There will be no development in Arunachal because of such political turmoil.”
The claim came hours after the PPA chose its MLA Takam Pario to be the state’s next chief minister. The party had said they would submit Pario’s name to Governor V Shanmuganathan, party president Kamen Ringu had said. Khandu and the six other MLAs were suspended on Thursday.
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.