The ruling BJP got a major jolt in Arunachal Pradesh ahead of Assembly elections as over 20 "strong leaders" including two ministers and six other MLAs joined National People's Party (NPP) on Tuesday.
The team included home minister Kumar Waii and tourism minister Jarkar Gamlin, who alleged that they were denied tickets to contest the April 11 Assembly elections as chief minister Pema Khandu considered them to be "threats." Three MLAs had joined NPP on Monday.
Jarpum Gamlin, who quit the party on Monday as general secretary of BJP's state unit also joined NPP, along with the leaders. Jarpum is the brother of Jarkar and former CM Jarbom Gamlin. He sought ticket from Liromba Assembly constituency but his name did not figure among the 56 candidates announced on Sunday.
Sources said some of them are former MLAs and have fair chance to win elections.
Welcoming the leaders, NPP general secretary (in-charge of Arunachal Pradesh) Thomas Sangma said that the NPP would now try to contest in at least 40 seats for the 60-member Assembly.
“We can form our own government if we win in all the seats,” Sangma told reporters in Itanagar while denying any pre-poll alliance with another party.
BJP formed its government after Congress MLAs left the party in 2016 and joined the saffron party. NPP, led by Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma has five MLAs in Arunachal Pradesh at present.
Elections to two Lok Sabha seats and the 60 Assembly will be held together on April 11.