Congress switches CM to avert Arunachal floor test Turkey quells coup attempt, 161 dead
Khandu replaces Tuki as new CM; BJP caught off-guard
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”.