MP Political Crisis Averted? As MLAs Return to Base, Congress-BJP Engage in Verbal Duel
File photos of MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and former CM Kamal Nath.
Bhopal: Hours after Congress leaders accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of forcibly confining a few of its MLAs, the ruling camp in Madhya Pradesh went into damage-control mode and exuded confidence of running a stable government even as the saffron party continued to deny charges of horse-trading.
Sources said the imminent threat to Chief Minister Kamal Nath’s government has been averted, at least for the time being.
In late-night political drama on Tuesday, the Congress accused the BJP of having taken eight MLAs to a hotel in Haryana as part of a conspiracy to topple the state government.
A few of the MLAs, who were reportedly taken out of the state by the BJP, returned to Bhopal in a special plane along with senior Congress MLAs on Wednesday evening. They included included Bahujan Samaj Party's (BSP) Sanjiv Kushwah and Rambai Singh, Samajwadi Party's (SP) Rajesh Shukla and Congress legislators Aidal Singh Kansana, Kamlesh Jatav and Ranveer Jatav. All of them refused to speak to the media and left the airport in a hurry.
It was earlier reported that four ruling camp MLAs have been taken to either Bengaluru or Chikmagalur in Karnataka. The Congress has claimed a few of the MLAs who remained untraceable included Bisahulal Singh, Hardeep Singh Dang and Raghuraj Kansana.
Independent legislator Thakur Surendra Singh, who is said to be upset with the Congress government over the denial of a ministerial berth and has been vocal about it, was also unreachable.
Nath said the BJP has been unsuccessfully trying, with the help of mafias, to destabilise the Congress government in the state. "We have a full majority in the Assembly, which we have proved during the passage of Budget and the speaker and deputy speaker’s election," he said.
Nath was said to be preparing to leave for Delhi, but later cancelled his trip. He met party MLAs and ministers at the Chief Minister's House before leaving for the secretariat.
On Tuesday, while responding to claims of MLAs being lured to the other side, Nath said he had asked legislators of the ruling camp to take the money allegedly being offered by the BJP leadership in the state if given for free.
The "whistleblower" of the horse-trading controversy, Congress MP Digvijaya Singh appeared before reporters on Wednesday and said there is no threat to the present dispensation.
Hitting out at former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Singh said the senior BJP leader had hired two chartered planes to ferry ruling camp MLAs out of the state. He added that four MLAs were taken to Bengaluru.
On Tuesday, Singh had accused the BJP of approaching Congress MLAs and allies with offers up to Rs 35 crore. He asked former home minister and senior BJP leader Bhupendra Singh if he had taken BSP MLA Rambai Singh to New Delhi in a chartered plane.
Meanwhile, ministers ‘owing’ loyalty to former Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia, did not attend the meeting Nath had convened at the CM House.
However, one of them, Pradyumn Singh Tomar, while speaking to reporters, extended his support to state government even as he ducked queries on why some ministers stayed away from the meeting. Earlier, Scindia had pleaded ignorance about the horse-trading episode when asked about the same in Gwalior.
Other senior ministers, including Govind Singh and Sajjan Singh Verma, claimed there was no threat to the Congress government and the BJP’s nefarious plans have been exposed.
Congress MP media cell in-charge Shobha Oza said the BJP is apprehensive of the anti-mafia drive launched in the and is engaging is such dirty tactics. “We dare the BJP to have a floor test,” she added.
She also claimed that of the eight MLAs who were taken out of the state, four have returned, while the remaining are still holed up by the BJP.
However, BJP leaders denied any role in the political crisis in the state and called it an internal conflict of the Congress.
During a very brief media briefing, state BJP president VD Sharma said leaders like Kamal Nath, Digvijaya Singh and Scindia should offer answers on the crisis. Soon after, he left the party office.
Chouhan, who returned to Bhopal from New Delhi later in the day, said the BJP had no plans to topple Congress government. “If the government falls out of its own weight, what has the BJP to do with it?” he said.
When told that Digvijaya Singh wanted to know the purpose of his sudden visit to the national capital, Chouhan said, “What does he have to do with it?”
Former BJP minister Narottam Mishra, considered a ‘key conspirator’ of the crisis with Chouhan, told News18 that as a politician, he remains in touch with many MLAs, but refuted the Congress’ allegations of horse trading. “The Congress government may crash due to its internal conflicts,” Mishra added.
The ongoing political developments are a result of 'infighting' in the ruling party, said BJP national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
Asked about the future of the government, which has completed 15 months of its tenure (since its formation in December 2018), Vijayvargiya said, “Let’s see, what happens next.”
He said if the BJP wanted, it could have formed its government in the state after the last Assembly polls because it was "short of only four to five MLAs" and people were ready to come to support it. "But we do not believe in these things," he said.
Vijayvargiya claimed many leaders associated with the Congress are still in touch with the BJP. "Young Congress MLAs, especially, are worried as their party leadership is not good both in Delhi and Bhopal, and in such a situation what will happen to their future?" he said.
The senior BJP leader also alleged that the ruling Congress in the state "failed" to keep its promises made to people during the Assembly elections in 2018.
The Congress camp is now claiming that it is in touch with eight-10 BJP MLAs. Some senior ministers, Digvijaya Singh and three MLAs are reportedly engaged in a marathon meeting at Madhyachal Bhawan in New Delhi till last reports came in.
In the 230-member Assembly, the Congress has 114 MLAs, followed by the BJP-107. The simple majority mark is 116. The Congress-led state government has the support of four Independent MLAs, two BSP legislators and one of the Samajwadi Party. Two seats are currently vacant following the demise of a Congress and a BJP legislator.
(With inputs from PTI)