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Arunachal CM joins Cong with Cabinet
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Congress today got a shot in the arm on the eve of the upcoming Assembly election when the caretaker Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Gegong Apang, his cabinet colleagues and party workers crossed over from the BJP to rejoin the Congress.

Mr Apang’s re-entry into the Congress will come as a blow to the BJP which has been trying to expand its base in the North East region. Mr Apang is among the longest serving chief ministers in the country and it was exactly a year ago when he had joined the BJP after dislodging the Congress government under highly controversial circumstances.

Announcing Mr Apang’s “homecoming” after eight years, CWC incharge of Arunahcal Pradesh Ramesh Chennithala said his decision to resign his BJP membership followed the realisation that they had been “misled” by the BJP-led NDA government. The Congress, he said, would benefit from the services of a veteran politican like Mr Apang, stating that the state party unit would contest the coming elections unitedly.

Arunachal Pradesh Congress President and former Chief Minister Mukut Mithi, who was Mr Apang’s arch-rival and had even accused him of being in league with underground elements, was seated on the dais when the present Chief Minister was being welcomed back to the Congress. Mr Mithi, however, brushed aside all these allegations which he had levelled against Mr Apang, stating, “We have decided to bury the past. We are now looking at a new future.”

Mr Apang, on his part, expressed his unflinching loyalty to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party’s ideology. He maintained the previous NDA government at the Centre had ‘reneged’ on all its promises on the state’s economic well -being and secularism. Mr. Apang met Mrs. Gandhi last night to formally convey his decision to her.

Justifying his decision, Mr Apang said BJP’s “exclusive” ideology of the NDA government’s failure to fulfil it promises had resulted in a “groundswell of resentment” among the tribals in the state.

“And now that the state is slated to go for the Assembly elections, people, particularly political workers, have started questioning our wisdom to continue in a party which not only has a narrow political thinking but has proved an abysmal failure to fulfil the commitments”, he said in a written statement.

Mr Apang had left the Congress in 1996 on the emtoive issue of Chakma refugees and formed the Arunachal Congress, one of the founding partners of the NDA. Mr Apang joined the BJP last year when he pulled off a virtual coup toppling the Mukut Mithi government.

Arch-rivals Mr Apang and Mr Mithi went out of their way to state that they had put aside their differences and would now work unitedly for the Congress victory in the October elections.

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