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BJP dithers on roping in Apang

Itanagar/Guwahati, Aug. 23: After a day of hectic politicking, a cloud still hangs over the Gegong Apang government. Though the BJP chose not to unseat Apang as chief minister for the “sake of political stability”, it is yet to take a decision on whether to induct him into the party fold.

According to the deal, the new government would continue to be a UDF government, with Apang at its helm, irrespective of whether he is inducted into the BJP or not. “It has been more or less decided that the new regime would be a UDF government headed by Apang, but the question of whether the chief minister will be inducted into the BJP will be settled by its high command,” a senior UDF leader said.

The UDF source further said once the question of party affiliation is settled, a ministerial delegation led by the chief minister would call on central leaders for a Rs 500-crore special economic package.

“We have decided to join the BJP as it will help us secure development funds easily. After all, our state is entirely dependent on central assistance. It makes sense to side with the powers-that-be in the greater interest of Arunachal Pradesh,” a senior UDF legislator said.

The BJP had earlier “agreed in principle” to induct all the 37 Congress (D) legislators and Apang — who belongs to the Arunachal Congress — into the party fold after they had applied to the Speaker for recognition as BJP legislators. But party leaders had objected to Apang’s continuation as chief minister.

BJP Northeast in-charge V. Satish will return to New Delhi tomorrow, where he is expected to meet deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani and party president Venkaiah Naidu to apprise them about the latest developments in the state.

Party senior vice-president Pyarelal Khandewal will arrive in Itanagar on Monday to brief the party’s state leadership about the high command’s stand on Apang.

The Arunachal unit of the BJP, however, remained tight-lipped about the developments after its leaders effected its biggest political coup in the Northeast. Members of the ruling UDF coalition decided to join the party en masse just days after they toppled the Mukut Mithi-led Congress government.

The developments in Arunachal Pradesh have apparently impacted the ruling Congress in Assam, with chief minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday setting up a cabinet sub-committee headed by health and family welfare minister Bhumidhar Barman to recommend steps to make the anti-defection measures more stringent as well as to suggest the size of the ministry.

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