Guwahati, July 14: A day after the Supreme Court ordered to maintain “status quo ante as it prevailed on December 15” last year in Aruchal Pradesh, rebel Congress leader Kalikho Pul on Thursday claimed that legally he continued to be the Chief Minister.
Pul, addressing a press conference here, also claimed that he has majority in the assembly and will prove it on the floor of the house when required.
Pul was accompanied by 30 other legislators. The Aruchal Assembly has a strength of 60. Pul had yesterday claimed support of 43 MLAs — 30 MLAs of Congress who later pledged allegiance to People’s Party of Aruchal (PPA), 11 of BJP and two Independents.
“Legally, I am the Chief Minister and this is my cabinet,” Pul said, pointing to the legislators sitting beside him.
He maintained that the SC verdict has not directed that the party composition as on December 15 last shall be restored.
Pul and several MLAs of the then-ruling Congress had joined the PPA and formed the government in February this year, with the support of BJP and two Independents.
Giving his interpretation of the apex court judgement, Pul said the operative part of the verdict dealt with three points — quashing of preponing of Assembly session, message sent by Governor to Speaker in this regard and December 16-17 Assembly proceedings.
He maintained that the verdict only reinstates the old Speaker, who was removed in the December 16-17 preponed sittings of the Assembly, and has no bearing on his taking over as the Chief Minister in February.
“But instead of dragging things into legal matters, we will prove our majority democratically by showing we have the numbers behind us,” he said.
He asserted that the issue of disqualification of 14 Congress MLAs and change of party affiliation of 30 Congress MLAs to PPA were also not affected by the verdict.
Meanwhile, BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Pul had majority support in the assembly. However, he referred to Pul as former Chief Minister.
“Kalikho Pul, Ex CM Aruchal addressing a press conference. 41 MLA’s has showed support 2 him. @rammadhavbjp @AmitShah,” he tweeted.
The Bharatiya Jata Party (BJP) has 11 members in the 60-member Aruchal Pradesh assembly and it is supporting Pul in the assembly.