New Delhi: In a turn of events, Pema Khandu, the newly elected leader of the Congress legislative party in Arunachal Pradesh met Governor Tathagata Roy on Saturday and staked claim to form the next government in the state.
“I staked claim to the Governor, oath taking date not decided yet. In total we have 45 Congress MLAs and two independent MLAs," Pema Khandu, the new Congress legislative party chief in the state, told reporters after meeting the Governor.
Earlier in the day, in a bid to firefight the political crisis and ensure numbers in the crucial trust vote, the Congress party has replaced reinstated Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Nabam Tuki with party leader Pema Khandu as the chief of its legislative party in the state.
A floor test to ensure Congress has the numbers was set to take place on Saturday. This was being done after the Supreme Court on Wednesday restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh.
“Government of India has nothing to do with whatever is going on in Arunachal Pradesh. Instability was creation of the division within the Congress, BJP has nothing to do with internal matter of Congress. We just wish there is political stability in Arunachal Pradesh as it is a sensitive and important state," Kiren Rijiju, central minister of state for Home affairs, told reporters.
Interestingly, according to a news report by the Press Trust of India (PTI), Pema was unanimously elected leader at a meeting of Congress Legislature Party (CLP), which was attended by 44 MLAs, including rebel Khaliko Pul, who became chief minister in February with outside support from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). It added that with the return of dissidents and Speaker Nabam Rebia the Congress strength has gone up to 45 in an assembly of 58.
Khandu, who has served as the tourism, art and culture minister in the state, is known to have opposed Tuki led government for a long time now. Khandu had resigned from the cabinet minister’s post last year over Tuki allegedly losing “popular support of the CLP members and the people of the state at large". Khandu is son of late chief minister Dorjee Khandu.