After Karnataka, drama begins over future of Madhya Pradesh government
A day after Karnataka’s alliance government crumbled after failing to win a trust vote, drama erupted in Madhya Pradesh over the future of the Congress-led coalition government that enjoys a slim majority in the state assembly.
Former MP chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Wednesday likened the Kamal Nath-led administration to the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government in Karnataka and said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) shouldn’t be held responsible if the state government collapsed.
“There is an internal conflict in Congress...if something happens to that then we can’t do anything...we will not cause the fall of government here,” he said.
Hours later, however, two BJP legislators sided with the government in a vote on a bill in the state assembly, with one of the lawmakers saying his support was “ghar wapsi” (homecoming). Both MLAs were former Congress members. Chief minister Kamal Nath described the events as “reinforcement of his government’s majority”.
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia congratulated the two MLAs on their ‘ghar wapsi’ and said, “They showed the mirror to BJP leaders who repeatedly talk of a minority government... I fully believe that our government will strongly push our development programmes further.”
The dramatic developments came a day after the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance lost a trust vote to the BJP by six votes, mainly because of the rebellion of 15 legislators who resigned their position roughly three weeks ago.
In the 230-member Madhya Pradesh assembly, the Congress has 114 MLAs and is supported by the BSP with two members, the Samajwadi Party with one, and four independent lawmakers. The BJP has 108 legislators and one seat is vacant. The halfway mark is 115.
The drama in the assembly began early on Wednesday, when BJP member and leader of the opposition, Gopal Bhargava, claimed the party could topple the Congress administration in 24 hours if instructions from the “Number 1” and “Number 2” – a possible reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah -- were received.
“Your coalition was based not on any ideological compatibility or principles but on greed. I believe the situation in Madhya Pradesh is much worse than that of Karnataka,” said Bhargava.
To this, Nath replied, “Your No.1 and No.2 are wise, that’s why they are not giving orders. If you want bring a no-confidence motion, please go ahead.”
Later in the day, the House took up the Criminal Procedure Code (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill 2019, which was originally scheduled to be passed by a voice vote. But during the discussion, BSP legislator Sanjeev Singh sought a division of votes and the demand was agreed to by speaker NP Prajapati. When the votes were counted, the government was found to have received 122 votes – two more than the number it commands.
The two BJP MLAs who supported the bill, Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol, were with the Congress earlier. Tripathi had won on a Congress ticket in 2013 but jumped ship before the December 2018 assembly election on being denied a ticket. Kol also joined the BJP after not being given a ticket and won from Beohari.
Tripathi termed his support as homecoming and said former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan only made announcements without any implementation. Bhargava and Chouhan claimed there was fake voting and demanded that the votes be verified. Nath agreed to the demand, but Prajapati adjourned the house sine die.
Nath said the vote proved that Congress enjoyed the majority in the House. “The BJP had been talking for six months (about toppling the government) but we have proved what we have do.”
Former principal secretary of the assembly Bhagwandev Israni said MLAs can lose their status as a member of the house if they violate whips of their legislature party or if they join other party.