It was sweet revenge for the BJP and the Northeast Democratic Alliance (Neda) -NDA's regional grouping floated by Amit Shah after the BJP's Assam victory -when Congress MLAs in Arunachal defected to the PPA on Friday .
Soon after the dramatic floor crossing, Neda convenor and high-profile Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said CM Pema Khandu and 42 MLAs had become part of Neda, launched formally on July 13 for a `Congress mukt' Northeast.
Sarma took the opportunity to take a jibe at Rahul Gandhi saying the Arunachal development had put a question mark on the AICC vice-president's leadership.
The U-turn in Arunachal politics within two months -from MLAs deserting Kalikho Pul-led PPA and forming a Congress government in July to returning to the PPA -has turned the spotlight on Sarma. After helping BJP to win Assam, the former Congress heavyweight is on a mission to free the Northeast from the Congress. The political upheaval took a tragic turn when Pul committed suicide last month.
On July 13, Neda suffered a setback when the Supreme Court reinstated Nabam Tuki's Congress government.Subsequently, Pema Khandu was made CM. But with 43 legislators returning to the PPA, Sarma's role as a strategist has got a boost and Neda has emerged as a key element in regional politics, especially with BJP trying to make a mark in the Manipur assembly polls early next year.
Sarma claimed he had no idea about the Arunachal developments.
Sarma hinted that Khandu was reluctant to return to the Congress when the legislators decided to quit PPA after the Supreme Court verdict.