Lotus blooms in Arunachal again (UPDATE)

By Pradeep Kumar Itanagar (Arunachal Pradesh) [India], Dec.31 : The lotus bloomed in Arunachal Pradesh again with 33 legislators of ruling People's Party of Arunachal (PPA) led by Chief Minister Prema Khandu joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The BJP came to power in Arunachal Pradesh, 13 years ago in 2003, making it the first north eastern state to be ruled by a right-wing party, albeit for a brief period.

The state's political stalwart, Gegong Apang, the second longest serving chief minister in India after former West Bengal chief minister Jyoti Basu, took over the state's reins as the leader of a BJP-led United Democratic Front ministry on August 3, 2003.

He had joined the BJP later but had deserted the saffron brigade lock, stock and barrel just 40 days before the 2004 assembly elections to re-embrace the Congress.

The 33 PPA legislators led by Khandu along with state BJP president Tapir Gao marched into assembly secretariat at Naharlagun and merged with the saffron brigade in writing.

Khandu and Gao informed the media in the assembly that 33 PPA MLAs had merged with the BJP. "The PPA adopted the Congress culture blocking development process which prompted us to decide to join the BJP," Khandu said and rubbished all allegations levelled against him by the PPA while Gao welcomed all the new comers to saffron brigade.

Later, in the BJP office, Gao, Khandu and senior BJP leader and sitting minister Tamiyo Taga, in their separate addresses, said the development agenda would be taken up jointly without any discrimination and rising above political differences.

"We all ministers will resign today or tomorrow to give a free hand to Chief Minister Khandu to choose his cabinet," Taga said, while Khandu pitched in to add: All sitting ministers would continue.

The state's political situation has been taking swift twists. PPA president Kahfa Bengia had suspended seven PPA MLAs, including Khandu and Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein on December 29, while government spokesman Bamang Felix on December 30 on behalf of Khandu group had told media persons that Khandu has the support of 49 MLAs - 35 PPA, 12 BJP and two independents.

However, Khandu today dropped senior ministers Tanga Byaling (RD and Panchayat, Rajesh Tacho (Sports and Youth Affairs), Takam Pario (PHED and Disaster Management) while PPA president suspended four MLAs - Honchun Ngangam, Bamang Felix, Punji Mara and Pani Taram - from the party today.

With the 33 PPA MLAs embracing the lotus, the party position in the 60-member assembly is BJP 45, PPA 10, Congress 3 and independents 2 (BJP Associate members).

Source: ANI