Arunachal Congress rebels join BJP MLAs to 'impeach' Speaker

Itanagar/New Delhi: Arunachal Pradesh was today rocked by a political crisis as 21 rebel Congress MLAs joined hands with 11 of BJP and two independents to 'impeach' Assembly Speaker Nabam Rebia at a makeshift venue, in a move branded as "illegal and unconstitutional" by the Speaker.

Up in arms against Congress Chief Minister Nabam Tuki for the last three months, 21 rebel party MLAs, including 14 disqualified yesterday, with the help of BJP and independent legislators, congregated at a community hall after the state Assembly complex was 'sealed' by the local administration, and 'impeached' Rebia in an impromptu session chaired by Deputy Speaker T Norbu Thongdok.

27 MLAs in 60-member Assembly, including the Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues, boycotted the  proceedings.

After the impeachment motion had been moved by Leader of the Opposition Tamiyo Taga of BJP, Thongdok called out the name of Rebia to enable him offer clarifications, if any, on the impeachment notice but the Speaker was not present.

The resolution was then put to vote and was supported by 20 dissident Congress MLAs, barring the Deputy Speaker who did not vote, 11 of BJP and two independents. All 33 of them also put their signature of consent on the resolution, which was then declared passed.

Reacting to the development Speaker Rebia, termed the move as "illegal and unconstitutional".

Questioning the legality of participation of 14 rebel Congress MLAs, who were yesterday disqualified by him,  including Deputy Speaker Thongdok, in the exercise, Rebia said it was a "mockery of democracy".

Earlier in the day, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi took the matter to President Pranab Mukherjee, accusing the Modi government of trying to "oust" the party government in the state as part of a "pre-planned design".

"It is clear that the BJP top leadership with the connivance of some dissident Congress MLAs planned to destabilize the democratically-elected Congress government in Arunachal Pradesh.

"This is obviously a pre-planned design involving the highest functionaries of the central government in this unprincipled enterprise," she told reporters at Rashtrapati Bhavan after meeting the President.

Congress also disrupted Parliament alleging efforts were being made to "destablise" the duly-elected government, but the Centre said an "emergency-like situation" prevailed in Arunachal Pradesh.

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