Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath in an exclusive conversation with News18 has claimed that he's in touch with "most of the rebel MLAs", who have been holed up in a resort in Bengaluru for the last 10 days.
The veteran Congress leader claimed that after "these MLAs released these messages," referring to video messages released by some of the MLAs, "they called me to say that they have been forced to record those videos...that is why I'm confident about my numbers."
Referring to the 16 Congress MLAs who have tendered resignations to the state assembly speaker as "my MLAs", Nath said no sitting Congress MLA had yet joined the BJP. "These are my MLAs until proven otherwise...If these MLAs were loyal to Scindia then they would have joined BJP as soon as Scindia joined BJP," he argued.
He added that these MLAs had so far only tendered resignations from the assembly, "they have not quit the Congress." The MP Chief Minister said that the ongoing crisis in the state was "just an event and not a crisis."
Meanwhile the Supreme Court, where the action has now shifted after the Speaker did not call for a floor test as demanded by the Governor and BJP leaders, on Thursday said that it could create conditions to ensure verification of whether resignation by rebel Congress MLAs was truly voluntary and suggested appointing an observer in Bengaluru who can connect with the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker on video conferencing for him to make a decision.
Nath responded to statements made by the state BJP chief and Lok Sabha member from Khajhuraho, Vishnu Dutt Sharma, who had claimed that the ongoing political crisis in the state was an internal issue of the Congress.
"This has happened because of the action we took against the mafia that was being supported by BJP...BJP took them...how is this an internal problem for the Congress? If these MLAs are not being held captive...if they are free, then why can’t they come to MP? They are being threatened that is why they are in a resort," Nath said.
Senior Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh have repeatedly asserted that floor test can only be asked for if a no-confidence motion is proposed. Since the ongoing assembly in the state was already in place for the past 15 months, since it was not a new assembly, Congress has argued, a floor-test cannot be demanded.
This was also part of the arguments made by senior advocate AM Singhvi, appearing for the Speaker NP Prajapati. In the interview with News18, Kamal Nath reiterated this point again, daring the BJP to propose a no-confidence motion against the government.
"We have been in power for 15 months...if we were not in majority then BJP would have toppled us on day one...BJP can call for a no confidence motion. Floor test is for a new government without majority...we have proven our majority in the last 15 months....so bring a no-confidence motion against us. If they are so confident that they have the numbers then why can they call for a no confidence motion," Nath said.
Nath also launched a blistering attack against Scindia. He claimed that he had met Scindia 8-9 days before he joined the BJP, however the royal scion had "not indicated any displeasure or reason to join the BJP."
The senior Congress leader and sitting CM also indicated that a campaign public highlighting that Congress has emerged unscathed from Scindia's resignation, is also in the works. "Every Congress worker knows their district....they know what impact Scindia's resignation has had...this will be made public soon," Nath told News18.
Regarding Scindia's attacks on the ruling state government just before he switched parties regarding the alleged non-fulfilment of the promise to waive off farm-loans, Nath said, "I know that farmers are happy with us...they have got loan waivers...I have proof."
He claimed that "Scindia and so many others" had praised him on the same issue some time back. "I want you to show Scindia the speeches where he has praised us," Nath said.
Nath also clarified that he had not sent Digvijaya Singh to Karnataka. "He is a Rajya Sabha MP...it is incumbent on him to go to MLAs to seek their vote...he will even approach BJP MPs for votes. But Digvijaya has been treated like a criminal? Why?" he asked.