Bhopal: A by-election victory in Madhya Pradesh has strengthened the Kamal Nath-led Congress government that has been surviving on a thin majority with the support of allies. With 114 party MLAs, Nath was in power with the support of two BSP MLAs, one MLA from the Samajwadi Party and four independents, all of whom are former Congressmen.
While Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, who have been till recently, threatening to overthrow the government at the next possible opportunity, have been put on a back foot, dissent and rebellion within the Congress is also likely to remain buried for a while.
Senior party leaders, including Digvijaya Singh and Jyotiraditya Scindia, frequently hit out at the government over administrative issues. However, the victory of Kantilal Bhuria in Jhabua has altered quite a few things, at least for now.
For one, it has helped the ruling camp touch the magic figure of 116 legislators in the Assembly with the Congress reaching the 115-mark along with Pradip Jaiswal, an independent MLA who is already a part of the government with a ministerial berth.
Soon after the result was declared, Nath challenged the BJP leadership to topple his government as it has been claiming to do ever since the Congress came to power in December.
On Saturday, PWD Minister Sajjan Singh Verma, a staunch Nath loyalist, openly slammed Digvijaya Singh and Scindia for trying to corner their own government in the past. Verma said both the senior leaders were detached from the ground realities in the state and were expecting miracles from the government in a short span of time.
Scindia had recently slammed Nath’s government over the ‘dismal’ implementation of the farm loan waiver scheme, while Singh had uploaded on Twitter pictures of stray cattle blocking the Indore-Bhopal highway to point out the lack of a proper cow conservation policy in the state.
Meanwhile, the PWD minister also floated the newly elected MLA’s name for the state Congress president’s post as he said Bhuria was a senior leader and capable of devising coordination between the government and party organisation.
Given Bhuria’s aspiration for a Cabinet berth, Verma’s statement holds significance. Also, Nath, who has been struggling with too many camps, especially those led by Singh and Scindia, within the party, is likely to have no problem in accommodating Bhuria in the party organisation.
Bhuria has remained the party’s most prominent tribal face in the last couple of decades and on several occasions, the party saw demands being raised for appointing him as the home minister. Some enthusiastic party workers have even demanded that the tribal face be made the chief minister.
The win has also weakened the bargaining power of independents and allies. Surendra Singh Thakur, the Burhanpur MLA, who has been very vocal against the Congress government for the longest time, is speaking in a different tune now.
Talking to reporters after the bypoll outcome, Thakur claimed that allies had backed the Congress government in its hour of need and hence, their contribution should not be forgotten.
Though no Congress leader has spoken anything on the matter, Public Relations Minister PC Sharma recently said, “We have 116 MLAs and our allies would continue to support the government. Hence, we would continue to be in power for the full five-year term,” said Sharma.