Jyotiraditya Scindia quits Congress, 22 MLAs resign; Madhya Pradesh government crisis deepens
Chief minister Kamal Nath’s government in Madhya Pradesh (MP) was plunged into crisis on Tuesday when 22 Congress legislators, including six ministers, tendered their resignations. The development followed senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia announcing his resignation from Congress minutes after Scindia met Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with Union home minister and Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) former national president, Amit Shah, in Delhi.
While the Congress legislature party passed a resolution supporting Nath on Tuesday evening, BJP legislators were flown from Bhopal to Delhi.
In his resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Scindia wrote, “While my aim and purpose remain the same as it has always been from the very beginning, to serve the people of my state and country, I believe I am unable to do this anymore within this party.” A BJP functionary said, “So far, it seems likely that he [Scindia] will formally join the BJP and his name could be proposed as a candidate from the BJP’s side in Madhya Pradesh,” said a party functionary.
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While Scindia has not made any further announcement, Yashodhara Scindia, BJP leader and Scindia’s aunt, described his decision as “ghar wapsi”.
On Tuesday, six ministers also resigned from Nath’s cabinet: Health minister Tulsi Silavat; food and civil supplies minsiter Pradyumn Singh Tomar; labour minister Mahendra Singh Sisodia; transport minister Govind Singh Rajput; women and child development minister Imarti Devi; and school education minister Prabhuram Chauhdary. In a letter to the governor, sent on Tuesday, chief minister Kamal Nath sought the immediate removal of the six.
On Tuesday evening, the Congress legislature party (CLP) meeting passed a resolution supporting Nath and accusing the BJP of “luring public representatives and victimising them in a bid to destabilise an elected government”. Most of the Congress legislators who resigned have been incommunicado since Monday night and are in Bengaluru. The CLP further said that the BJP feared the “tough action” taken by the state on issues like e-tendering and the scam involving examinations conducted by Vyaysayik Pareeksha Mandal (Vyapam).
Congress alleged BJP’s senior leaders had lured Congress and independent MLAs to Bengaluru “to hatch a conspiracy”. “When they couldn’t succeed in their design, they tried to satisfy the personal ambitions of Jyotiraditya Scindia by cocking a snook to democratic values and ethics and insulting the public mandate,” reads the Congress resolution. The CLP also expressed its gratitude to the Congress president for expelling Scindia from the party.
Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said, “The MLAs who had left for Bengaluru are feeling betrayed by BJP leaders as they had not realised that they were being taken there to change their ideology. They had been taken by the BJP leaders on the pretext that they had to support candidature of Jyotiraditya Scindia for Rajya Sabha.” Oza further alleged BJP leaders Umashankar Gupta and Sudarshan Gupta were involved in the conspiracy.
Meanwhile, former chief minister of MP and BJP’s national vice-president Shivraj Singh Chouhan described Tuesday’s developments as “an internal matter of the Congress.”
On Tuesday evening, following a meeting of its legislature party at which a handful of MLAs of the 107 were absent, BJP MLAs were taken from Bhopal to Delhi. A senior BJP leader said, “All BJP MLAs will remain in Delhi till the floor test in the state Assembly.” State media in-charge for BJP Lokendra Parashar said, “There was discussion on Rajya Sabha elections during the meeting. Nothing else was discussed.”
Earlier on Tuesday, 22 Congress MLAs emailed their resignation letters to Speaker NP Prajapati, who said he would look into the resignation letters on Wednesday.
If the resignations are accepted by the Speaker, the effective strength of the Assembly will come down to 209, giving the BJP, with 107 MLAs, a slender majority of two. At present, the effective strength of the MP Assembly is 228, with two seats lying vacant, and the Congress has 114 MLAs, including the 22 who have resigned. The remaining seven are from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has two MLAs; one from the Samajwadi Party (SP); and four independent legislators. These seven support the Nath-led government.
A delegation of BJP leaders led by the leader of Opposition, Gopal Bhargava, met the Speaker at his official residence in Bhopal, on Tuesday evening.
On Tuesday, veteran Congress leader and MLA Bisahulal Singh announced his resignation from the Congress in Chouhan’s presence, in Bhopal. Singh also announced he was joining the BJP.