The Janata Dal (United) (JD-U) received a major jolt in Arunachal Pradesh, with six of its seven MLAs shifting allegiance to the ruling BJP, a bulletin issued by the state legislative assembly said.
The lone MLA from the People's Party of Arunachal (PPA), Kardo Nyigyor from the Likabali constituency, has also joined the saffron party.
The development comes a day ahead of the announcement of the panchayat and municipal poll results.
Six MLAs switch camps
The JD(U) MLAs who switched sides are Talem Taboh from Rumgong Assembly Constituency, Hayeng Mangfi (Chayang Tajo), Jikke Tako (Tali), Dorjee Wangdi Kharma (Kalaktang), Dongru Siongju (Bomdila) and Kanggong Taku from Mariyang-Geku constituency, the bulletin said.
On November 26, the JD(U) had issued show-cause notices to Siongju, Kharma and Taku for "anti-party" activities, and suspended them.
The six JD(U) MLAs had earlier elected Talem Taboh as the new Legislature Party leader allegedly without the knowledge of senior party members.
The PPA MLA was also suspended by the regional outfit earlier this month.
"We have accepted their letters conveying the intention to join the party," BJP's Arunachal Pradesh president B R Waghe said.
Nitish downplays defections
Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Friday sought to downplay the split suffered by the Janata Dal (United) in Arunachal Pradesh where all but one MLA of the party have joined the BJP.
The JD(U) has been contesting Assembly polls in a number of states without having a truck with the BJP, insisting that its tie-up with the saffron party was "confined to Bihar".
Kumar, who is the JD(U)s national president, sought to dismiss with a bitter laugh the development in the north- eastern state, where his party had won seven seats in the assembly polls held last year and become the main opposition group while the BJP, his coalition partner in Bihar, had achieved power.
"We are focusing on our proposed meeting. They have gone their own way", Kumar said in response to queries from journalists about the split that came ahead of the JD(U)s national executive and national council meetings scheduled here this weekend.
The party made an exception only in the Delhi assembly polls earlier this year which it fought in alliance with the BJP though the coalition suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Aam Aadmi Party.
The success in Arunachal Pradesh had helped the JD(U) gain recognition as a state party there, a development which was hailed by its rank and file as an evidence of its growing footprint under the leadership of the Bihar Chief Minister.
Opposition hits out
Meanwhile, the opposition RJD-Congress combine came out with statements asserting that the development in Arunachal Pradesh gave a hint of the shape of things to come in Bihar where the JD(U) has already ceased to be the senior partner in the coalition.
"The BJP, by violating the coalition dharma, has sought to send out a clear message that it cares two hoots about Nitish Kumar who, on the other hand, is wary of even reacting", RJD national vice-president Shivanand Tiwary said in his statement.
He also claimed that at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital recently, the states two Deputy CMs - Tar Kishor Prasad and Renu Devi - were told by the former that the people of Bihar had reposed their trust in BJP which resulted in a majority for the NDA.
The JD(U), led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, won seven of the 15 seats it contested in the 2019 assembly elections, and emerged as the second largest party after the BJP, which had bagged 41 seats.
Following the switchover, the BJP now has 48 MLAs in the 60-member House, while the JD(U) is left with only one.
Congress and the National People's Party (NPP) have four members each.
(With inputs from PTI)