Itanagar: The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered a major setback in Arunachal Pradesh ahead of the Lok Sabha elections 2019, with 18 of its leaders calling it quits and joining Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma’s National Peoples Party (NPP) on Wednesday.

Among the 18 leaders are party general secretary Jarpum Gambin, Home Minister Kumar Waii, Tourism Minister Jarkar Gamlin and six other legislators.

The development came after these leaders were denied tickets for the upcoming polls. The leaders also alleged that in Arunachal Pradesh, three tickets have gone to the family members of Chief Minister Pema Khandu.

Besides the above-mentioned leaders, the others to join the party are sitting BJP legislators Thangwang Wangham, Tapuk Taku, Pani Taram, Pangka Bage, Wangling Lowandong and Kardo Nyigyor and ex-minister Tsering Journey.

“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 all the seats,” said senior NPP leader Thomas Sangma.

Sangma had said last week that his party would field candidates in all 25 Lok Sabha seats in the north-eastern states. “We are working towards fielding candidates in all the 25 Lok Sabha seats across the north-eastern states. It is not practically possible for us to immediately field candidates, but wherever we get a positive response and wherever it is possible to organise our party in a short period, we will field a candidate,” he had said while speaking to news agency IANS.

National Peoples Party (NPP), a key BJP ally has decided to go solo across the northeast this coming election. The NPP is likely to announce the final list of its candidates today.

Meanwhile, the BJP has already declared a list of 54 candidates for the assembly polls. The BJP list for the upcoming polls in Arunachal Pradesh includes the name of chief minister Pema Khandu. He will be contesting the Vidhan Sabha elections from the Mukto assembly constituency.