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Fresh twist in Arunachal Pradesh, Pema Khandu claims support of 49 MLAs

As a fresh political drama unfolded in Arunachal Pradesh after Chief Minister Pema Khandu was suspended from PPA along with six other MLAs, his government on Friday claimed majority support and the BJP backed him, but the ruling party said there will be change in leadership.

The Pema Khandu government claimed support of 49 of the 60 MLAs, including 35 of Peoples Party of Arunachal (PPA) legislators, a day after he was suspended from his own party.

Government spokesperson Bamang Felix claimed that 35 out of the 43 PPA MLAs have reposed their faith and allegiance in the leadership of Khandu.

“We have support of 49 MLAs including 35 PPA, 12 BJP along with one associate BJP member and one independent,” he claimed at a press conference here.

“Everything is going normally as usual and the chief minister is still enjoying absolute majority from PPA, BJP and independent MLAs,” Felix said in response to queries.

The PPA, which has total 43 MLAs, had midnight last night temporarily suspended Khandu, deputy chief minister Chhowna Mein and five other MLAs from the primary membership of the party for their alleged “anti-party activities”.

There is no iota of truth in the news that has gone viral about the change in leadership: Bamang Felix, Arunachal Govt Spokesperson

— ANI (@ANI_news) December 30, 2016

Stating that there was no question of change in leadership, Felix said, “We are looking at the legal aspects of the suspension of seven MLAs including Khandu.” “The PPA is not a single man party. Whatever decision was taken by the party’s president Kahfa Bengia was his own.

“We are trying to sort out the differences among the party MLAs and our door is open for all,” the spokesman added.

Responding to a query on BJP s claim that process is on for the PPA MLAs to join it, Felix said that since PPA is an alliance partner of BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) government “no such question arises”.

Bengia on his part said that Takam Pario, PHED minister, is likely to be the next chief minister.

“The sudden decision of the PPA is not acceptable to us as they have never discussed with us. In the interest of development of the state and its people, BJP cannot be a party to change of government every six months,” BJP legislature party leader Tamiyo Taga told a press conference.

Taga, who is also the Textile and Handicraft Minister, further said that the party has decided to support Khandu on the floor of the assembly if the Governor issues directives for a floor test.

Khandu broke away from the Congress along with 42 lawmakers in September this year, managing a coup that suddenly left the party out of power in the state.

Arunachal has been battling political instability since December last year when Congress dissidents revolted against former chief minister Nabam Tuki.

After a series of dramatic developments, which included a special session held at a hotel to vote out Tuki, Congress rebel Kalikho Pul became chief minister in February with the help of 11 BJP lawmakers.

The Congress then moved Supreme Court, which turned the clock back and restored Tuki’s government.

But Tuki was out within days as he did not enjoy a majority in the 60-member assembly.

Pul, who insisted that he be reinstated as chief minister, was left alone in the last minute when lawmakers supposedly backing him shifted their loyalties to Khandu.

Pul committed suicide in August and a month later, Khandu walked out of Congress with 42 lawmakers and joined the PPA.