Pema Khandu
Pema KhanduTwitter/Pema Khandu

In a huge blow to the Congress, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, along with 42 other MLAs, deserted the party on Friday and joined the regional People's Party of Arunachal Pradesh (PPA).

The Congress had 46 members in the 60-seat Arunachal Assembly, while BJP has 11 members. Out of 46, 43 legislators, including Chief Minister Khandu, of the Congress have joined the PPA. Former chief minister Nabam Tuki and a few other MLAs continue to be with the Congress in the state.

The move has come at a time when the Arunchal Pradesh government is stretched for resources. Earlier, there were speculations of the Arunachal CM making the move soon along with two-thirds of the party's MLAs.

"Have met the assembly speaker and informed him that they are merging the Congress with the People's Party of Arunachal or PPA," Khandu said.

As the Arunachal CM and his supporters join the PPA, the party will become part of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). The NEDA was formed by the BJP President Amit Shah in May 2016 and is presently run by the BJP minister in Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Peoples Party of Arunachal was founded in 1979 and is a regional party of the state. Kalikho Pul, the late chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh, had also joined the PPA along with 24 other Congressmen in February 2016.