Acting Governor Leaves Arunachal Ahead of Scheduled Cabinet Swearing In

The NCP is alleging a conspiracy by the BJP to “yet again destabilise an elected government” after Tathagata Roy left the state to go to Tripura, of which he is the governor.

Acting governor of Arunachal Pradesh Tathagata Roy. Credit: PTI

Acting governor of Arunachal Pradesh Tathagata Roy. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The swearing-in ceremony of the cabinet ministers of the Pema Khandu government in Arunachal Pradesh, which was scheduled for July 27, had to be postponed indefinitely as the state’s acting governor Tathagata Roy failed to be in Itanagar to conduct the proceedings.

Though the Congress has kept a studied silence, the National Congress Party (NCP) in a press note released on Thursday accused Roy “of walking the same unconstitutional path as J.P. Rajkhowa.”

State NCP president Gicho Kabak said in the note, “The present Governor was reluctant to invite Pema Khandu to take oath as the chief minister despite earnest requests for conducting oath taking (ceremony) on 16th July, 2016.”

“On 17th July, 2016, the Governor unwillingly conducted the oath taking of Chief Minister Khandu.” Kabak urged the governor to return to Itanagar to conduct the oath taking of 11 cabinet ministers “at the earliest.”

Speaking to The Wire, state NCP vice president and party spokesperson Nima Sangey said, “This looks like deliberate delay tactics used by the BJP government at the Centre. We should not forget that Roy is also a senior BJP leader. Through the new Governor, the BJP wants to yet again destabilise an elected government in the state.”

Sangey supported his argument by saying, “Though Roy failed to turn up in Itanagar for the scheduled ceremony, we didn’t read much into it as yesterday he arrived in Guwahati and was set to come to Itanagar. Later, we heard that he suddenly changed his schedule and returned to Kolkata and thereafter took a flight to Agartala [Roy is also the Tripura governor]. What could be so urgent waiting for him in Agartala that he couldn’t be in Itanagar to conduct the swearing in ceremony? Obviously, something is cooking.”

The NCP leader said, “There is no communication from the Raj Bhavan to the Khandu government yet about the Governor’s return and rescheduling of the swearing in ceremony.”

“However, we plan to wait for some more time before deciding on the next course of action,” he added. As per the constitution, the chief justice of a high court (in this case Gauhati high court) can conduct the swearing in ceremony of the cabinet ministers in the absence of the governor in the state.

Atom Potom, the media spokesperson at the Raj Bhavan, however, denied that the governor “is on leave”. He told this correspondent, “The Congress and NCP may be saying that the governor is on leave but he is in Agartala on work.” On asking when would he be back in Itanagar, Potom refused to reply.

Roy was sworn in as the acting governor of the state on June 11 as Rajkhowa reportedly “suddenly went on sick leave.” There is no news about Rajkhowa’s return to the post.

Khandu, who was in New Delhi last week, flew back to Itanagar on the weekend to ready the final list of cabinet ministers to be sworn in on July 27. On July 17, only Khandu and deputy chief minister Chowna Mein were sworn in by the governor.

During his Delhi visit, Khandu met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some of his ministers besides meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

Khandu, before returning to the Congress – reportedly fearing disqualification from the house following the June 13 Supreme Court verdict – was a part of the government headed by Congress rebel Kalikho Pul under the aegis of the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA).

The PPA is an ally of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), the BJP’s regional platform formed to make the North East “Congress mukt”. Perhaps in a sign of things to come, speaking to the media recently, both BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav and NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The Arunachal story is not over yet”.

The story has been corrected for erroneously quoting NCP vice president Nima Sangey as Congress spokesperson.