Bhopal: Having witnessed a mass exodus of lawmakers on Tuesday as well as losing senior leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who is likely to join the BJP soon, Chief Minister Kamal Nath continued to put up a brave face and said his government still has the required numbers to prove its majority in the Assembly.
Sources said that Public Works Department (PWD) minister Sajjan Singh Verma, a Nath confidant, and two other ministers will leave for Bengaluru to persuade some of the MLAs camped there to return. The party plans to bring them back to the state with lucrative offers.
"Several of our MLAS and independents were present in the meeting. The MLAs taken away recently were misled and thought they were gathering to put pressure for Jyotiraditya Scindia's Rajya Sabha nomination and had no idea of him leaving the party," said Congress media cell in charge Shobha Oza after the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting in Bhopal on Tuesday evening. "They are in touch with Chief Minister Kamal Nath. Our government is absolutely stable and we will prove our numbers on the floor of the House."
So far, 22 Congress MLAs have resigned from the Assembly. The party has 114 MLAs in the Assembly, whose effective strength currently is 228.
Minister PC Sharma said that barring six ministers from the Scindia camp, they are in touch with the 13 MLAs who were taken away. Sharma said the resignations submitted on behalf of these MLAs are fake, adding that all of them would reach the Assembly for the floor test.
BJP leaders had earlier in the evening submitted the resignation papers of 19 Congress MLAs to Speaker NP Prajapati.
Sharma said the Congress would issue a whip to these MLAs, adding their resignations are not valid until they present themselves before the Speaker in person.
However, none of these leaders specified the exact number of MLAs who attended the CLP meeting; a few MLAs claimed 94-98 lawmakers were present and had expressed faith in Nath's leadership. A state minister said two BSP and an SP MLA who support the government skipped the meeting. These three MLAs were holed up in a hotel in Haryana with some Congress MLAs last week when the party had alleged that the BJP was trying to lure away its legislators.
After the meeting, Deputy Speaker Hina Kanwre said all the MLAs have been asked to remain in Bhopal until the floor test takes place.
Leaders such as Arun Yadav and Priyavrat Singh had earlier affirmed that the Nath government remains safe and would prove its majority on March 16 when the Assembly's budget session gets underway.
Sources claim that the Congress is hopeful of luring back some of the rebel MLAs even as Scindia deferred his plans to join the BJP on Tuesday and is expected to do so in Bhopal on March 12. He is likely to file nominations for the Rajya Sabha polls the next day.
(With inputs from PTI)