Eighteen BJP leaders in Arunachal Pradesh, including two ministers and six lawmakers, have resigned in a major setback for the party, barely days before the state votes for assembly polls along with the national election on April 11. The leaders, upset over being denied a chance to contest the polls, have joined Conrad Sangma's National Peoples Party (NPP), a key BJP ally which will fight the elections alone. A total of 25 leaders have quit the party over the last week in the northeast.
The BJP has also managed to finalise only two alliances in the northeast; many of its regional partners including Conrad Sangma's NPP and Sikkim's SKM, have dumped the party just ahead of elections.
In Arunachal Pradesh, Home Minister Kumar Waii, Tourism Minister Jarkar Gamlin, BJP General Secretary Jarpum Gambin, and six legislators are among those who have resigned.
"They (BJP) attack the Congress on dynasty politics but look at Arunachal Pradesh. The Chief Minister's family has got three tickets," Home Minister Kumar Waii said.
"The NPP would now try to field candidates for at least 30-40 seats in the 60-member assembly. We will form our own government if we win in the seats," said senior NPP leader Thomas Sangma.
Jarkar Gamlin said he would not have resigned had the party informed him in advance that he would not be given a ticket to contest polls.
"The choice was between the party or my people who I have led for the past three years. In electoral politics, people are more important than the party and I have gone with the decision of my supporters," Mr Gamlin said.
"If I was informed in advance that I won't be given party ticket, I would not have resigned. But I was always given a false impression by the party," he added.
Union minister and BJP leader Kiren Rijiju said that the decision on tickets was made by the central election committee.
"Party ticket is an internal matter of the party. As per the recommendation of state election committee, final decision was taken by the central election committee. Yes, sitting ministers were denied tickets, but that's because of the ground situation assessed by the parliamentary board," he said.
The NPP is expected to announce the final list of its candidates by Wednesday. The BJP has already declared a list 54 candidates for the assembly polls.
The BJP's vice-president in Tripura, Subal Bhowmik, on Tuesday quit the party and joined the Congress. It is likely that the Congress would nominate him as its candidate from West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency.