The rebel Congress leaders from emergency-hit Arunachal Pradesh awaiting the Supreme Court’s verdict in the national capital say they still consider themselves part of the Congress but have been unable to meet the high command despite several attempts.
The Congress, however, insists that the rebels are being hosted by the BJP, which has split the Congress Legislature Party and plunged the State into a constitutional crisis.
Though the rebels are optimistic about Monday’s court hearing, hoping that President’s rule in the State will be extended until a new government is formed, they have almost given up on the idea of meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
“The Congress’s biggest problem is that it doesn’t want to listen,” Chowna Mein, a senior Congress leader in Arunachal Pradesh, told The Hindu . “We still consider ourselves in the Congress because we are like a family. And when family members start arguing over something it’s the duty of the family head, mother or father, to come forward and resolve the problem. But in our case, no one is even interested in meeting us.” Senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal recently accused them of camping in Delhi as the BJP’s “guests,” a claim Mr. Mein rejected.
A former Assembly Speaker, Finance and Education Minister, Mr. Mein still believes he’s “part and parcel” of the Congress. It's the indifference shown by the Gandhis to him and his rebel companions that “forced” them to join the BJP MLAs and launch a frontal attack on their own party, eventually leading to the imposition of President’s rule.
“The Chief Minister acted like a dictator,” Mr. Mein said. “He either blocked the Central funds or diverted them to his favourite projects and he also intervened in the work of other Ministers.” Under Nabam Tuki’s command, Mr. Mein served as Minister for Veterinary and Dairy Development.
‘We still await response from Sonia’
Wanglin Lowangdong, a rebel Congress MLA from Arunachal Pradesh, said that on the advice of Congress general secretary V. Narayanasamy, the dissident leaders wrote to president Sonia Gandhi, citing the reasons for their protest and seeking an appointment with her. “The letter was delivered to Ms. Gandhi in the first week of November. We are still waiting to hear back from her.”
The rebel leaders said they would like to continue working for the Congress even if the senior leadership kept snubbing them. “We are not against our party, we are against the dictatorship of [former Chief Minister Nabam] Tuki,” Mr. Lowangdong said.
Mr. Narayanansamy confirmed to The Hindu that the rebel leaders sought appointments with Ms. Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Yet he maintained that there was no need for them to meet the rebel leaders. “I have been meeting them [the rebels] every now and then,” he said.
“And if Soniaji or Rahulji want to meet them, they will call them.”
Last Wednesday, the Supreme Court heard the petition filed by Mr. Tuki challenging the imposition of President’s rule. The court sought the response of the Centre and Arunachal Pradesh Governor J.P. Rajkhowa.
Insensitive act, says Kharge
Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge has termed the imposition of President’s rule in Arunachal Pradesh insensitive and anti-constitutional.
Talking to presspersons here on Sunday, Mr. Kharge said it was a serious threat to democracy. He accused Governor J.P. Rajkhowa of engineering a Constitutional crisis in the State using trumped-up charges against a democratically elected government. Charging the Governor with acting at the instance of the Central government, Mr. Kharge said he should be recalled.
He questioned the holding of the Assembly session in a makeshift hall to remove the Speaker and moving a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Nabam Tuki. The BJP had no faith in the Constitution and its values.