Con­gress switches CM to avert Arunachal floor test Turkey quells coup at­tempt, 161 dead

Khandu re­places Tuki as new CM; BJP caught off-guard

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Rahul Kar­makar let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com Peroshni Govender let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

The Con­gress re­placed chief min­is­ter Nabam Tuki with a party rebel in Arunachal Pradesh on Satur­day, a dra­matic step that helped dif­fuse months of po­lit­i­cal cri­sis which threat­ened to end the party’s hold on the north­east­ern state.

Pema Khandu, 37, will be sworn-in on Sun­day re­plac­ing Tuki, who re­signed shortly be­fore he was to prove his ma­jor­ity on the floor of the Assem­bly. Khandu was among two dozen party MLAs who had re­belled against Tuki, set­ting off a chain of crises that led to Pres­i­dent’s Rule in the state.

The turn of events caught by sur­prise the op­po­si­tion BJP, whose 11 MLAs had backed the rebels who top­pled the Con­gress gov­ern­ment in Jan­uary be­fore it was re­in­stated by the Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day.

Khandu, the el­dest son of former chief min­is­ter Dor­jee Khandu, is a pas­sion­ate cricket lover who grad­u­ated from Delhi’s Hindu Col­lege.

The Con­gress said it now has the sup­port of 47 MLAs in an assem­bly with an ef­fec­tive strength of 58.

“The credit goes to So­nia and Rahul Gandhi for re­unit­ing the Con­gress in Arunachal,” Khandu said af­ter he was elected as the leg­is­la­ture party leader. Khandu was elected to the assem­bly from Mukto, the con­stituency his father rep­re­sented be­fore he died in a he­li­copter crash in 2011.

Tuki met act­ing gov­er­nor Tatha­gata Roy in the af­ter­noon and sub­mit­ted his res­ig­na­tion as the chief min­is­ter, which the gov­er­nor ac­cepted. Khandu then staked claim to form the gov­ern­ment. The dra­matic turn of events made the floor test re­dun­dant. It also sur­prised the BJP that was back­ing the Peo­ple’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) gov­ern­ment led by Ka­likho Pul. The BJP had for­mally asked PPA to merge with it last month. Tuki did not spell out what made the PPA leg­is­la­tors re­turn to Con­gress but party lead­ers said they could have faced dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion by speaker Nabam Re­bia if they went against the party whip and voted against Tuki dur­ing the floor test.

“We are re­united and our house is in or­der. This is a big vic­tory for the Con­gress be­cause the BJP had tried ev­ery trick to de­stroy us. We had dif­fer­ences in opinion but was never any dis­si­dence that the BJP tried to ex­ploit,” Tuki told HT.

Turkey’s fifth coup in as many decades lasted just five hours, leav­ing 161 peo­ple dead and more than 1,400 in­jured, but the fall­out is likely to see Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan fur­ther tighten his grip on power and in­ten­sify the crack­down on his op­po­nents.

The at­tempted putsch be­gan on Fri­day night when a fac­tion of the mil­i­tary sent tanks backed by fighter planes into the cap­i­tal Ankara and Is­tan­bul, Turkey’s fi­nan­cial hub, to seize power while Er­do­gan was hol­i­day­ing in the Mediter­ranean re­sort of Mar­maris. Au­thor­i­ties blamed the coup on Er­do­gan’s arch enemy, the reclu­sive US-based cleric Fethul­lah Gulen.

Rebel troops blocked two bridges across the Bospho­rus Strait in Is­tan­bul, trig­ger­ing a stand­off with an­gry pro­test­ers. Am­a­teur videos posted on so­cial me­dia showed troops fir­ing at pro­tes­tors near one of the bridges and at Tak­sim Square. Tanks also sur­rounded the par­lia­ment build­ing in Ankara, which was dam­aged by a blast, as the po­lice en­gaged the rebel troops at sev­eral places.

‘EROD­ING DEMO­CRATIC RULE OF LAW’ The army fac­tion be­hind the coup ac­cused Er­do­gan’s gov­ern­ment of erod­ing demo­cratic and sec­u­lar rule of law. It said in a state­ment that the Turk­ish armed forces were tak­ing over the ad­min­is­tra­tion to “re­in­state con­sti­tu­tional or­der, hu­man rights and free­doms, the rule of law and the gen­eral se­cu­rity that was dam­aged”.

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