New Delhi : Another leaf has been added to the on-going saga in the sensitive border state of Arunachal Pradesh. Governor J P Rajkhowa met a delegation of 18 dissident Congress MLAs led by former minister Kalikho Pul who staked his claim to form a government in the state. Pul has been assured of the support of 11 BJP legislators and another group of five Congress MLAs led by former minister Chowna Mein.

In a press release issued from Itanagar, Governor Rajkhowa assured the delegation that he would forward their claims to President Pranab Mukherjee for information and direction. “It is for the President of India to decide whether to lift the President’s Rule, and (if so) when. It is (also) for the President to make a decision on reviving the life of the Assembly by revoking the suspension order,” said the Raj Bhawan press release.

But the developments sent the alarm bells ringing in the Congress camp, and their leaders approached the Supreme Court as well as the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The Supreme Court however refused to intervene as demanded by the Congress leaders and refused to pass an interim order restraining  the governor from swearing-in a new government.

The five-judge constitution bench headed by Justice JS Khehar also declined the prayer of Congress leaders that status quo be maintained in the crisis-hit state and no new government formation be permitted. “We have heard your arguments on injunction. We don’t propose to pass any order and we will hear the matter on merits,” the bench, also comprising justices Dipak Misra, MB Lokur, PC Ghose and NV Ramana, said.

Later in the evening a Congress delegation comprising senior leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Kapil Sibal met president Mukherjee and submitted a memorandum demanding that the governor should not be allowed to go ahead with the illegal exercise of swearing-in a government headed by defectors.

“The leader Kalikho Pul has claimed the support of 18 Congress MLAs, and this does not qualify for the 2/3rd strength of the Congress party of 45 to be valid as a merger under the anti-defection law. The governor should not have entertained the claim of a group that stands disqualified,” said Sibal while briefing the media after the meeting.

He charged that the ruling BJP at the centre was playing these destabilising games in flagrant violation of the constitution. ”They imposed the President’s rule because they wanted to dismiss the elected Congress government. Now they want this illegal government sworn-in because they know that their decision to impose President’s rule will not be ratified by Parliament when the budget session begins later this month,” charged Sibal.

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