President Rule in Arunachal Pradesh: Summary of Events

Last assembly elections were held in Arunachal Pradesh in 2011. Out of the total 60 seats in state assembly, Congress won 47, BJP won 11 and there were 2 independent MLAs. Thus, Congress came to power with an overwhelming majority and its leader Nabam Tuki was sworn in as the chief minister of the state. His brother Nebum Rebhia was appointed as speaker of assembly.

However, soon there was increasing dissidence in the ruling party. Few ministers were replaced via a cabinet reshuffle in December 2014. In that reshuffle, the state’s health minister Kalikho Pul was dropped from the government. In due course, he came out to be the central figure in this entire controversy.

In April 2015, Kalikho Pul charged the government with financial mismanagement. He was expelled from the party for six years due to his anti-party activities. As the number of rebel Congress leaders grows, the Nabam Tuki government drops few more ministers. In October 2015, Pul meets with the state BJP leaders and the game of defections begins in the state.

In December 2015, the Governor issues an order under Article 174(1) of the Constitution advancing the 6th session of the state assembly to December 16, 2015. This particular session was to commence from January 14, 2016 rather. Meanwhile, the Congress rebels (along with BJP MLAs) had submitted a notice for removal of speaker of assembly {note speaker is brother of Nabam Tuki}. The Governor fixed this “resolution for removal of speaker” as first item of agenda for state assembly on its first day. In the same month, Pul was heard making derogatory remarks about Nyishi tribe {to which Nabam Tuki belongs} and about bringing BJP in power.

On December 16, 2015, state government had locked the assembly building to prevent the rebel leaders from holding a session. However, the sixth session of the assembly was held on that day in a make shift venue near the state assembly. This session was attended by some 33 MLAs (20 ruling party MLAs with 11 BJP MLAs). They removed the Speaker as well as Chief Minister by passing a no confidence motion in that very meeting. They also named Kalikho Pul as new Chief Minister of the state. The Congress Party approached President Pranab Mukherjee to complain against the governor’s action and seek the President’s intervention by issuing “appropriate directions”. The matter was also taken to Guwahati High Court. What happened along with this is as follows:

  • Governor’s decision to advance the assembly session was challenged in the High Court.
  • The speaker disqualified the rebel congress MLAs using anti-defection law.
  • The high court suspended governor’s directive until February 1 and all the decisions taken by the rebel ‘session’ were kept in abeyance.
  • Matter was also taken to Supreme Court which is currently being heard by a constitution bench.

In January 2016, the state congress leaders visit Delhi to meet party high command which asserts confidence in Nabam Tuki.  On January 26, the Union Cabinet approved President’s rule in the state via Article 356 citing law and order collapse. Currently, both Pul and Tuki are camping in New Delhi waiting for the SC verdict.

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