Itanagar: In a dramatic turnaround in Arunachal Pradesh, the Congress party has replaced Chief Minister Nabam Tuki by choosing a new leader, Pema Khandu, who staked claim to power on the basis of support of 45 party MLAs and two independents.
In fast-changing developments, Khaliko Pul, rebel-turned chief minister, who was unseated by the Supreme Court, returned to the party fold with 30 dissident MLAs.
Hours ahead of a scheduled floor test in the Assembly, which Governor Tathagat Roy had directed Tuki to take, the Congress elected 37-year-old Khandu, the son of late chief minister Dorjee Khandu, as its new leader.
Tuki proposed Khandu as the new leader, which was unanimously accepted by 44 MLAs who were present. Speaker Nabam Rebia did not attend the meeting while Khaliko Pul attended with the other rebel MLAs.
In the 60-member House with an effective strength of 58, the Congress now claims the support of 47 MLAs, including two independents.
Ahead of the meeting, Tuki met the governor and told him of his intention to resign as the party chief and chief minister, and the party’s decision to elect a new leader.
Tuki, accompanied by Khandu, told reporters that given these developments he informed the governor that he would not be taking a floor test.
Khandu also told the media that he has staked a claim to power with the governor on the basis of the support of 47 MLAs and that he should be sworn in.
He said the governor has not given any commitment yet as he told them that he has to go through records and process their claim.
“Right now the governor has not commented (on their claim). No time has been given for oath taking,” said Khandu, who has been a minister in the state earlier.
The developments have come as a major boost for the Congress, which was rocked by dissidence in the state since November last year that led to the toppling of its government and ushering in of a new one headed by Pul with the backing of rebels and outside support of 11 BJP MLAs.