Observers brief Sonia on feud in Arunachal party unit

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin looked unperturbed as he drove into the Congress headquarters here on Saturday evening, amidst reports that he had put in his papers — and shortly after the party functionary in charge of the State, Dhaniram Shandil, told journalists that a new leader would be announced next week.

Asked whether he had resigned, Mr. Gamlin gestured to the rooms within — the offices of the senior office-bearers — and said cryptically, “Ask them.”

Interestingly, just a while ago, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, “The Chief Minister and the PCC chief Nabam Tuki have offered to submit their resignation. As of now, no decision has been taken. It is under consideration.” Half an hour later, a senior functionary said Mr. Gamlin had not resigned.

As confusion over whether he had indeed resigned — or even offered to resign — prevailed, Mr. Gamlin himself arrived and vanished into the party's conference room to await an audience. Minutes later, he emerged from the main building and walked to the room of Colonel Shandil, who was not in. Mr. Gamlin's aide posted outside the door informed journalists that he would speak only “after the AICC [leadership] had taken a decision.”

Saturday's drama at the Congress headquarters and the conflicting positions on Mr. Gamlin's resignation come in the wake of a three-member team of observers submitting report on the feud in the Arunachal party unit to Ms. Gandhi earlier in the day. The observers — Colonel Shandil, the former Union Minister for development of the northeast, B.K. Handique and Union Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde — who visited the State recently, briefed the Congress president on the political situation in the State at a meeting, where general secretary Oscar Fernandes and Ms. Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel were present.

The meeting, informed sources said, discussed the available options, now that the feud between the Chief Minister and the PCC chief was threatening to divide the State unit along ethnic lines. “The matter was discussed threadbare with the Congress president and she will name a new leader within the next two or three days,” Colonel Shandil told journalists after the meeting.

The 50-year-old Gamlin — who studied history at the elite St. Stephen's College here and law at Delhi University — was sworn in as Chief Minister on May 5. At the time, he was State Power Minister. Earlier, he was Home Minister in the Gegong Apang Cabinet. Mr. Gamlin succeeded Dorjee Khandu, who died in a helicopter crash.

But Mr, Gamlin's has been a troubled tenure with a majority of the 42 Congress legislators in the 60-member Assembly opposing his continuance in office. According to one party version, 24 of the 42 MLAs are backing Mr. Tuki as the next Chief Minister — Mr. Tuki also has the support of two Independents. The crisis escalated after Mr. Gamlin's critics accused him of getting a senior State Minister, Chowma Mein, abducted allegedly at gunpoint, the sources said.