Rebel Congress legislators in Arunachal merge with regional outfit

Itanagar, March 3: In a major blow to the Congress, 30 rebel legislators in Arunachal Pradesh led by Chief Minister Kalikho Pul on Thursday merged with People's Party of Arunachal (PPA), a regional political outfit in this mountainous state. "We (30 Congress legislators) have merged with the PPA after the Congress party high command failed to recognized Kalkiho Pul as the elected Congress Legislature Party," Pasang Dorjee Sona, one of the 30 rebel lawmakers, told IANS. "We have merged with the PPA after fulfilling all the constitutional provisions having the requisite number of two-third of the legislature party without violating the tenth schedule of the constitution," he added. Pasang said that the internal feud within the Congress legislature party could have been resolved had the party high command taken serious interest in ironing out the issue. "When we were camping in New Delhi seeking Congress president and vice president's intervention but they refused to give us audience to hear our grievances and instead pushed us to the wall. Therefore, they are responsible for the political mess in the state. "We have to merge with the PPA in the interest of the people of the state and governance has nothing to do with political ideology. Good governance and the development of the state come first," Pasang said. Pul was sworn-in as the eighth chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh on February 19 after the central government recommended that President's Rule be lifted from the state. On February 25, Pul won a vote of confidence in the 60-member assembly, whose strength now stands at 58 following the expulsion of two Congress legislators. The BJP which has 11 members and two other Independent members also supported Pul. Ousted chief minister Nabam Tuki and his 16 loyalist Congress members did not attend the assembly session. Tuki described the merger as "unconstitutional". "They have been violating the constitution provisions. How can they merge with another party and when there is no split at the party (Congress) at the national level? Therefore, the merger is highly constitutional and illegal," Tuki told IANS over phone. "Since the political matter is still pending in the Supreme Court and the (Gauhati) high court. I hope the court will also take review on this fresh political development and decides accordingly," he said. The BJP has welcomed the development.