As Congress party leaders led by Digvijaya Singh ran from pillar to post to meet their "rebel" MLAs in Bengaluru on Wednesday, the BJP said the lawmakers are apprehensive of a possible backlash from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath, who is an accused in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, if they return to their home state.
“The chief minister in Madhya Pradesh is an accused in the 1984 riots. So, out of fear of being crushed, people who are outside the state don’t wish to return,” said BJP state president VD Sharma in Sehore, with former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan beside him.
After days of political bickering, Chouhan appeared to be in a jovial and relaxed mood as he played cricket with his partymen in his home town of Sehore, where the BJP MLAs have been kept in a hotel for the last few days.
Chouhan tried his hand at batting and bowling.
“We have the utmost faith in the apex court and those who don’t have faith are resorting to foul language and physical tussle,” Chouhan said, indirectly referring to a protest organised by Congress workers at the BJP office in Bhopal on Wednesday where workers of both parties physically assaulted each other.
On charges of him being power greedy, Chouhan said said he could have continue in power (after a close result in 2018) when people were ready to switch over, "but I offered you the chance to run the government but you failed to do so and your MLAs ran away".
Chouhan also reiterated that MLAs outside MP felt threatened if they returned to the state.
Back in Bhopal, hundreds of Congress workers, annoyed with the arrest of their leaders in Bengaluru, marched to the BJP office. A few of them, dodging police barricade, approached the gates of the opposition party office.
Armed with sticks, both party workers assaulted each other before police personnel stepped in and whisked away some Congress workers in their vans.
Alleging armed assault by Congress workers, district head Vikas Veerani approached Habibganj police station to lodge a complaint.
“When the Congress has failed to tackle us in assembly, its workers are resorting to such dastardly acts,” Sharma said in a statement.
Congress leaders also staged a protest march till Raj Bhavan against the BJP’s attempt to dislodge a democratically elected government and preventing Digvijaya Singh from meeting party MLAs in Bengaluru.
Earlier in the day, Nath claimed he could go to Bengaluru if the need arose, saying he had called up Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on phone but got no replies.
The Congress threatened that its party leaders would stage a dharna in Bengaluru if their MLAs are not freed and sent home.
Meanwhile, after making a surprise visit to Bengaluru early on Wednesday, Singh and others tried to meet the DGP. After failing to do so, Singh sat on a dharna while several others returned to Bhopal.
In between, the Nath cabinet meeting in Bhopal offered district status to Maihar, Chachoda and Nagda towns to please its MLAs. Maihar’s elevation as district was a demand from BJP MLA Narayan Tripathi who is caught between the Congress and BJP.