With the numbers clearly stacked against it a day ahead of the floor test in Arunachal Pradesh, the Congress on Friday kept its cards close to its chest but appeared confident that it would sail through.
“I am confident we will be able to get the numbers,” senior party leader Abhishek Singhvi told The Hindu .
Asked what the party’s strategy would be, Mr. Singhvi merely said, “I am not in a position to divulge the strategy, but there is both a political and legal strategy.”
The numbers, however, tell a different story. Of the original 45 Congress MLAs in a House of 60, only 15 remain with Chief Minister Nabam Tuki. In Guwahati on Thursday, his rival, Kalikho Pul, had paraded 41 MLAs, including 29 of the People’s Party of Arunachal Pradesh, 11 BJP members and two Independents.
Even though the effective strength of the Assembly is 58 as two members have resigned, Mr. Tuki’s chances of proving his majority look slim. He needs the support of 30 MLAs to stay in power.
It is perhaps for this reason that he met acting Governor Tathagata Roy in Itanagar and sought 10 more days, saying some of his MLAs were not in town.
Political sources said the reason for the rush to hold the floor test is that the BJP, embarrassed by the apex court judgment, wants to defeat the Congress on the floor of the Assembly before Parliament convenes for the monsoon session on July 18.
In the wake of the judgment, the Congress, along with several other Opposition parties, had announced that they would raise the matter in Parliament.
“The BJP is unable to digest the Supreme Court verdict. In a healthy democracy, as a consequence of the court judgment, adequate time should have been given as recommended by the Sarkaria Commission,” stressed Congress general secretary in charge of the state. C.P. Joshi.
If the Congress is defeated on Saturday, it will neutralise the impact of the “moral victory” it won as a consequence of the judgment.
Though the Congress’s efforts to win the trust vote look low key as compared to Uttarakhand, when the party sent a senior delegation to Dehradun, it has been reaching out to the Congress rebels, promising a possible change of leadership. Mr. Tuki, party sources said, is aware and in agreement with this plan.
But Mr. Pul and the BJP are sure of defeating Mr. Tuki. “We are sure of our numbers,” he said.
Former Congressman Himanta Biswa Sarma, who switched over to the BJP and helped the party win the Assam election, is masterminding the party’s strategy. He has reportedly booked all the MLAs into a luxury hotel in Guwahati to ensure they cannot be wooed by Mr. Tuki ahead of the vote.