A curious situation involving two legislators has emerged in the political circles of Madhya Pradesh, which has put everyone including these MLAs and both the major parties in a fix.
Narayan Tripathi was elected on Congress ticket from Maihar constituency last year, but openly campaigned for the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections as well as assembly by-polls.
When he comes to Bhopal, he visits the BJP office and holds closed-door meetings with its leaders. However, in the assembly, he still sits with the Congress members.
While the BJP maintains that he hasn’t formally joined the party, the Congress has sought action against him. On his part, Tripathi is dragging his feet and hasn’t resigned from the Congress.
Similar is the case of another rebel Congress legislator Dinesh Ahirwar, who was elected from Jatara and later campaigned for the BJP.
The bizarre situation has left both the parties confused, especially because of the technicalities involved in these two cases.
"During campaign for the Lok Sabha elections, Tripathi had openly said that he had joined the BJP. Also, he actively worked for BJP in the recent by-poll. But if we expel him, he would get benefit and would be able to continue his membership in the House," said a Congress leader on the condition of anonymity.
"However, if he leaves the party, it will fall under the anti-defection law and he stands to lose his membership of the assembly," he said further. "We won’t let him go easily. He wants that we should expel him but why should the party do it. Let him face the consequences of his actions and lose his membership. Exactly same is Ahirwar’s situation."
The BJP is also treading with caution due to the same problem.
Sources said the two rebel Congress legislators may not fancy contesting another election soon in case they defect to BJP and lose their membership, especially the manner in which BJP candidate lost Bahoriband.
Clearly, the legislators seem to have bitten more than they could chew. On the Congress’ complaint, the assembly secretariat has asked MLAs to explain their status of party affiliation. On Friday, Tripathi sought more time to reply. He told media persons that he hasn’t quit the Congress.
BJP state president Kumar Singh Chouhan said Tripathi hasn’t joined the BJP. Congress chief spokesperson KK Mishra told HT, "During the Lok Sabha elections, Tripathi had verbally said he had joined BJP. We haven’t got anything in writing from him as yet... This is a technical issue and the party will take action only after consultation with senior functionaries of the party."