The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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It is political expediency at its worst. The manner in which the Bharatiya Janata Party transformed the United Democratic Front government in Arunachal Pradesh into its own is nothing short of a coup. All that the party, which did not have a single legislator in the state assembly, had to do to effect this change over was to take into its fold 36 of the 38 legislators belonging to the Congress (Democratic), the leading partner in the UDF. Both the chief minister, Mr Gegong Apang, and the BJPís central leadership seem to have been hand-in-glove in thus reducing parliamentary politics to a farce. That Mr Apang himself was not immediately taken into the BJP , apparently due to objections from the partyís state unit, is a minor footnote to the whole episode. It can be safely predicted that it is a matter of time before he too joins the party. Switching party loyalties is nothing new to Mr Apang, who began his earlier chief ministerial tenure as a Congress leader and then broke away from the party to float his own Arunachal Congress, while staying on in the post for 19 long years. Mr Apangís ó and the Congress(D) membersí ó latest somersault gives credence to the Congressís complaint that the BJP had plotted a split in the formerís unit in the state and thereby the fall of its government, headed by Mr Mukut Mithi. But then Mr Mithi too had once done precisely the same ó leading a revolt against Mr Apang and turning an Arunachal Congress government into a Congress one.

While the events in Itanagar make a mockery of democracy, there is a sinister angle to them as well. There are reasons to seriously note the Congressís other charge that the National Socialist Council of Nagalim, led by Mr Thuingaleng Muivah and Mr Isak Swu, had a hand in toppling Mr Mithiís government. Before the last assembly elections in Nagaland, the then Congress chief minister, Mr S.C. Jamir, too had complained of the outlawed Naga groupís overt support to the BJP and its allies, which subsequently formed the government in Kohima. It would be a dangerous game for a ruling party in New Delhi to enlist the support of militants in its battle against political rivals. Mr Apangís first major step after becoming the chief minister this time gives cause for much concern in this regard. By scrapping the Prevention of Organized Crime Act, which Mr Mithi had promulgated to check insurgent and other criminal activities, Mr Apang has conceded a major demand of the NSCN(I-M). Dangers of this political cynicism can hardly be overstated.

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