Guwahati/Patna: Six of the Janata Dal (United)’s legislators in Arunachal Pradesh joined the BJP Friday, dwindling the party’s strength in the 60-member assembly to just one while boosting the BJP’s tally to 48.
The defections drew sharp reactions from the party in Bihar, which called it a violation of “alliance dharma”.
“We are surprised at the development. It goes against the basic rules of alliance dharma. The Arunachal Pradesh government was not under threat and we were a friendly opposition,” JD(U)’s national spokesperson K.C. Tyagi told ThePrint.
“Woh log alag ho gaya hai. Humlog ka kal se meeting hai (They have separated. We have a meeting tomorrow),” said Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar while speaking to media in Patna. The party’s two-day national executive meet begins Saturday.
Itanagar MLA Techi Kaso is now the only JD(U) legislator in the Arunachal assembly. According to a bulletin by the state legislative assembly, the six MLAs joined the BJP on 23 December.
The JD(U) had won seven of the 15 seats it contested in the 2019 assembly elections, and emerged as the second largest party after the BJP, which had bagged 41 seats.
The Congress and the National People’s Party (NPP) have four members each.
Switch to BJP a ‘homecoming’
Speaking to ThePrint over phone, Tali MLA Jikke Tako, who is among the six JD(U) legislators who joined the BJP, said it was a “homecoming” for him on Christmas.
“We were working under Pema Khandu as a team and following BJP ideology. I went to JD(U) only for the MLA ticket and we waited for the municipal and Panchayat elections to get over. This was as planned, and today as a ruling party MLA, I am celebrating Christmas,” said Tako.
The other five MLAs are Talem Taboh, Kanggong Taku, Hayeng Mangfi, Dongru Siongu and Dorjee Wangdi Kharma.
On 26 November, the JD(U) had issued show cause notices to Siongju, Kharma and Taku for “anti-party” activities, and suspended them. The MLAs had earlier elected Taboh as the new legislature party leader without consent from party leadership.
Although the BJP and JD(U) are alliance partners in Bihar, equations between the two have been tense since the national party’s cornered a majority of the seats in state assembly election last month. Adding to the friction is the speculation that BJP was instrumental in propping up Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) leader Chirag Paswan against the JD(U), which hurt the party’s poll prospects, reduced its tally in the assembly and pitchforked the BJP as the senior partner in the ruling NDA in Bihar.
On the JD(U)’s shortcomings in Arunachal, Tako said, “We don’t have cadre system in JD(U) and there is also no provision of grassroots-level alliance between parties in Arunachal Pradesh. So, we took the BJP president into confidence and defected to the party.”
Welcoming the new MLAs, BJP leader and MP Tapir Gao said, “Everyone is welcome. The BJP will welcome anyone who respects party ideology and wishes to join.”
(with PTI inputs)