In Arunachal Pradesh, it’s not quite a matter of all’s well that ends well. In fact, there is some way to go through a potential legal minefield before popular rule is established again under a new Congress chief minister in the Assembly. But it is here that acting Governor Tathagata Roy can play an active role in undoing all the damage already done in the capricious use of the provision for President’s Rule to manipulate Governors to do the bidding of the party ruling at the Centre. It is by ordering a fresh floor test to a tight time frame that the Governor can help restore popular rule quickly. Of course, any tricky legal rulings ahead can be ironed out by referring back to the Supreme Court, which in the first place had put a lid on the goings-on in the north-eastern state in a unanimous verdict delivered by a five-member Constitution Bench.
The Congress played its cards smartly in unseating Nabam Tuki and getting his cousin, Pema Khandu, elected by the MLAs so that the floor test became infructuous. This also makes it clear that the party high command must listen more to the voices within so that dissidence may be handled intra-party rather than allowing their legislators to become pawns in games of horse-trading. A very good opportunity has presented itself now for cleaning up the mess and putting democracy back on its feet again. The Centre would be exposing its hand if it dithers in allowing the show of numbers on the floor of the Assembly to re-establish popular rule. If the government does not have the numbers, a poll would be the right solution.