Yet another setback for BJP
Earlier on Wednesday, on the eve of the Parliament's monsoon session, a five-judge Supreme Court bench ended President’s rule imposed in Arunachal Pradesh and all the decisions made by the Governor leading to its imposition. The bench called the actions of Governor J P Rajkhowa “illegal” and violative of the Constitutional provisions. The apex court ordered status quo ante as prevailing on December 15, 2015, and restored the Nabam Tuki-led government. The landmark judgment from the Supreme Court saw it completely dismiss all the decisions of Arunachal Pradesh's Governor last year, which allowed a BJP-supported rebellion to depose Congress Chief Minister Nabam Tuki and his government. The court ordered effectively restored status quo ante, Tuki is Chief Minister again.
A statement issued through e-mail by media cell of the Arunachal Pradesh CM’s office said Tuki resumed his duties “in compliance with the order of the hon’ble Supreme Court.” According to news website Scroll.in, this victory might not be enduring for the Congress. Tuki has taken charge as Chief Minister again, but the rebellion has not dissolved. This means the Congress only has 26 Members of Legislative Assembly in a house of 60. There are 21 rebels, 11 BJP MLAs and two independents. For the moment that might mean a minority Congress government until it has to survive a floor test. This is why Tuki is calling on the rebel MLAs to return to the Congress fold.
As per a report in The Indian Express, the Congress is in touch with the other opposition parties which have a common interest in the repeated instances of adventurism of the Union government. As the CPM was quick to point out, the Centre must heed this verdict and stop its growing authoritarian tendency to invoke Central rule in states that have opposition party governments. While the Congress celebrated the Apex court's verdict and used it to criticise the BJP, there is a realisation that more worries are in store for them in the North-East region, one of its traditional bastions. Although the Congress has managed to save its governments in Uttarakhand and now Arunachal Pradesh, its troubles are far from over. It is feeling the heat from the BJP in the North East now.
It is only ironical that the Supreme Court verdict came as the BJP has been fervently pushing for a “Congress-mukt Northeast” in Guwahati launching the Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) comprising nine parties from the region. In Arunachal Pradesh itself, the Congress faces an uncertain future: the numbers in the state are not in its favour. The only hope is that many of the MLAs who had switched sides and gone with Kalikho Pul will return to the fold. Efforts for their return have already begun.
There is trouble brewing in many other states. As per sources, many of Congress MLAs in Assam are in touch with the BJP and their new found star, Himanta Biswa Sarma. They could cross over one by one, resign and contest by-elections in seats vacated by them on BJP tickets. As the BJP is working overtime to make inroads into the North East after its victory in Assam, the Congress is still groping in the dark given how it is quite in tatters in other Northeastern states.
The BJP, however, termed the Supreme Court decision to restore the Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh as “strange”. The party said the Apex Court verdict raises a question as to whether it strengthens democratic spirit or weakens it. This is the first order by the Supreme Court reinstating a government in a state even after it had been replaced by a new government.