Madhya Pradesh drama over, Congress says 6 of 8 MLAs are back

Updated on Mar 05, 2020 04:59 AM IST

Congress media in charge Shobha Oza said the party was in touch with three other lawmakers – two from the Congress and one independent— who were in Bangalore.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath leaves after a meeting with party MLAs and others, in Bhopal, Wednesday, March 4, 2020.(PTI photo)
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath leaves after a meeting with party MLAs and others, in Bhopal, Wednesday, March 4, 2020.(PTI photo)
Hindustan Times, Bhopal | By

A brewing crisis in the Madhya Pradesh Congress seemed to have blown over on Wednesday after six of the eight lawmakers supporting the party, which alleged they had been held captive by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a Gurugram hotel, returned to Bhopal and pledged their continued support to the Kamal Nath government.

The Congress claimed that its government, which accused the BJP of trying to poach its supporters, was safe.

Congress media in charge Shobha Oza said the party was in touch with three other lawmakers – two from the Congress and one independent— who were in Bangalore.

She also said two Congress MLAs, who were in Delhi, would return later on Wednesday evening.

After returning to Bhopal, the six legislators said they went to Delhi for some work and still supported the state government. The MLAs who returned were the Congress’s Aindal Singh Kansana and Kamlesh Jatav, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s Sanjeev Singh Kushwah and Rambai Singh Parihar, lone Samajwadi Party MLA Rajesh Shukla, said Congress spokesperson Syed Zaffar.

“Three more MLAs, Congress’s Bisahulal Singh and Hardeep Singh Dung and an independent MLA, Surendra Singh Shera, are yet to come. We are in touch with them. They are in Bengaluru,” Zaffar said.

“I am a Congress MLA, not a BJP MLA. I don’t know who spread rumours that BJP leaders took me to Delhi,” Kansana said.

Kushwah, Shukla and Parihar said they still supported the Congress, which has 114 legislators in the Madhya Pradesh assembly, with an effective strength of 228.

Six others – two Bahujan Samaj Party, one Samajwadi Party and four independent MLAs — are supporting the government. The BJP has 107 MLAs.

Chief minister Nath accused the BJP of “trying to destablise” the Congress government and added that he had proven time and again that the Congress enjoys a majority in the assembly.

“The BJP doesn’t believe in democracy,” said Nath.

“They believe in plotting, conspiracy and money power. That’s why it wants to grab power while hatching a conspiracy with the help of mafia money power,” he alleged.

Congress general secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia said the Congress government was “stable and completely secure”, accusing the BJP of trying to poach the party legislators.

Congress general secretary in-charge of Madhya Pradesh, Deepak Babaria, claimed that the “crisis is over” as the legislators came back.

“One more experiment of the BJP to destabilise the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh has miserably failed,” he said.

The drama started when senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member,Digvijaya Singh, on Tuesday night accused four state BJP leaders of holding eight lawmakers, including three from the Congress, captive in a hotel in Gurugram.

He also released a video of two ministers in the state government, Jaivardhan Singh (his son) and Jitu Patwari, trying to enter the hotel on Tuesday night to meet the legislators.

The two were able to meet BSP’s Parihar and bring her back.

Singh alleged that the ministers were not allowed to enter the hotel by Haryana police personnel and named senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders including former minister Narottam Mishra of being behind the poaching attempt.

This was after Anand Rai, a whistleblower in the so-called Vyapam scam that involved irregularities in entrance examinations, college admissions and recruitments, tweeted a video showing Mishra talking about toppling the Congress government by offering money to disgruntled lawmakers of the Congress and other parties supporting the state government. Mishra termed the video a fake.

In the evening, the forest minister in the Kamal Nath cabinet, Umang Singhar, tweeted that the episode was linked to a fight over a Rajya Sabha seat from Madhya Pradesh that is due to become vacant.

“The government of Hon’ble Kamal Nath is completely secure. This is a fight to enter Rajya Sabha. Rest, you people are wise enough,” he tweeted.

Digvijaya Singh’s Rajya Sabha term ends in April.

The Congress is confident of winning two of the three seats that are due to fall vacant although the BJP has claimed it would easily win one seat and insisted one more would be a tough contest.

Commenting on Singhar’s tweet, BJP MLA and spokesperson Rameshwar Sharma said: “It means he (Digvijaya Singh) himself projected his MLAs as saleable and thus blackmailed his party for the Rajya Sabha [seat].”

Oza dismissed the speculation as scandalous.

She said it was because of the alertness of Congress leaders including chief minister Kamal Nath and Digvijaya Singh that the BJP hadn’t succeeded in destabilising the government.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister and BJP national vice-president, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and Union rural development minister, Narendra Singh Tomar, had a long meeting with other party leaders, after which they claimed that the BJP had no role in play in the alleged poaching attempt.

“I have stated earlier also that we don’t want to get involved in any such activity but if the government falls on its own due to inner conflicts we can’t help it,” Chouhan said.

BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya said, “If BJP wanted to form its government in this manner it could have done so immediately after state assembly elections results when the Congress was short of majority.”

Political analyst Girijashankar said: “The onus lies on Digvijaya Singh to prove with evidence that the BJP leaders were involved in horse trading against the Congress since he was the first to talk about horse trading and then made efforts to foil it. If Singh fails to provide evidence, obviously fingers would be raised against him from the BJP or from within his own party Congress, as Umang Singhar has done.”

(With inputs from HTC in New Delhi)
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    Ranjan Srivastava leads HT’s coverage from Bhopal. He has spent more than two decades in journalism in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, covering political and other affairs. For the past 16 years, he has been working in Madhya Pradesh.

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