- 6 out of seven JDU MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh defected to BJP
- JDU now has only one MLA in the 60-member Arunachal assembly
- Together with the MLA of the Arunachal People’s Party, the BJP now has 48 members
Nitish Kumar, still angered by the Bihar elections that demoted him as a junior member to the BJP, has suffered further humiliation from his longtime ally in a state where his party had recently registered his presence.
Six of the seven legislators of Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United (JDU) in Arunachal Pradesh have defected to the BJP. The JDU now has only one MLA in the 60-member Arunachal assembly. Together with an MLA from the Arunachal People’s Party, the BJP now has 48 members.
The JDU MLAs who left are Hayeng Mangfi, Jikke Tako, Dongru Siongju, Talem Taboh, Kanggong Taku and Dorjee Wangdi Kharma. Three of them had been suspended and notified communications last month for anti-party activities after choosing a legislative party leader allegedly without consulting the head of the state JDU.
The head of the BJP state unit, Biyuram Wahge, said the development demonstrated people’s faith and trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Pema Khandu.
Those close to Nitish Kumar are extremely upset by what is seen as the betrayal of the BJP and this is expected at the Janata Dal United National Council’s two-day meeting this weekend. JDU and BJP are not partners of Arunachal, and Nitish Kumar’s party is in opposition in the state, but supports the BJP-led government.
The JDU became a recognized state party in Arunachal Pradesh just last year, having won seven seats in the northeastern state and ranked second after the BJP, which was the largest party with 41 seats.
“The count entitles us to the status of the main opposition party. But we will offer full support to the BJP government in that state. Even if we have the status of an opposition party, we will be a friendly opposition,” said the leader of the JDU KC. Tyagi was quoted as said by the PTI news agency.
The strength of the opposition has now dropped to 12: four each from Congress and the National People’s Party, one from the JDU and three independents.
This is the second shock for Nitish Kumar after he held his post as Prime Minister of Bihar in recent polls, but was made keenly aware of his reduced status in the BJP-led coalition.
In the October-November elections, the majority of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 243-member assembly was fed by the 74 seats in the BJP. The JDU came in at number 3 – after Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD and BJP – with a tally that dropped to 43 from 71 in 2015.
Nitish Kumar still became Prime Minister, but the BJP showed who the boss is by replacing his longtime second-in-command Sushil Modi with two new Deputy Chief Ministers.