New Delhi: Just four days ahead of the first all-party meeting called by the government before the monsoon session, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has scored a self goal in Arunachal Pradesh with the Supreme Court restoring the Congress government in the state, a move that is likely to put the party on the back foot in Parliament.
The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has called an all-party meeting on 17 July, a day before the monsoon session starts.
Less than two months ago, the apex court had ordered a floor test in Uttarakhand resulting in ousted Congress leader Harish Rawat being reinstated as the chief minister. Nine rebel Congress leaders had joined hands with the BJP to upturn the Rawat-led government.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday restored the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh and termed governor J.P. Rajkhowa’s action of dismissing the government of former chief minister Nabam Tuki as unconstitutional.
The common link between the political developments in both the states has been the BJP wanting to exploit the internal political crises of Congress-ruled states, particularly the smaller ones where the strength of the legislative assemblies are less. The situations were, however, reversed after legal intervention.
The immediate problem for the NDA is that it may face a united opposition on the issue. Most of the opposition parties have come out against the BJP and have blamed it for the constitutional crisis in Arunachal Pradesh and for hurting federal relations.
Senior leaders of the Congress party are thinking of organising a united front with like-minded political groups to corner the government and ask for a debate in the monsoon session. “We are going to raise this issue in the monsoon session. It is a serious attack on democracy and the federal structure of the country and duly elected governments. We will raise it in Parliament because the common people should know what the government’s views are," a senior Congress leader said, requesting anonymity.
Defending the BJP, a senior party leader said, “The Congress party still needs to prove its majority. A government cannot be in vacuum. BJP came in the picture because of the in-house troubles of Congress. We supported the rebel camp that had broken away from Congress." He spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Supreme Court verdict will also affect BJP’s image in the northeast. After the win in Assam and by becoming a partner in the Arunachal Pradesh government, the party had succeeded in becoming a decisive force in northeast politics, but now the BJP will come under severe criticism from non-NDA parties.
The verdict will also have its impact on the crucial assembly elections in Punjab, Uttarakhand and especially in Uttar Pradesh, where regional and national parties will use the opportunity to target the BJP leadership’s public perception.
“In a way this is a major embarrassment for the BJP. The court has given a status quo. The decision also raises questions on how a minority government was allowed to be formed. Such tactics were first started by the Congress and the tradition has been maintained by the BJP. It is a political opportunity that they have taken advantage of, just like the Congress did previously," said Nani Bath, senior lecturer in the Department of political science at Arunachal University.
Pretika Khanna contributed to this story.