‘Aaya Ram Gaya Ram’ politics reinvented itself in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on Thursday, when Deputy Leader of the Congress Legislature Party himself opposed a no-confidence motion against the BJP government, saying Lord Ram had been insulted. Bhind MLA Chaudhri Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi, who after the end of the day’s proceedings joined the BJP, interrupted Leader of the Opposition Ajay Singh as he rose to move the motion.
After Speaker Ishwardas Rohani asked Mr. Ajay Singh to present the motion, Mr. Chaturvedi stood up and said: “This motion has no mention of the 721 pilgrims of M.P. missing in Uttarakhand. Honourable Speaker, this motion also does not talk of former minister Ragahvji’s CD scandal. There are people who are saying Bachcha Bachcha Ram Ka, Raghavji Ke Kaam Ka! [Every child is Ram’s and is of use to Raghavji]. This hurts my sentiments and the sentiments of Hindus who form 80 per cent of this country.”
Mr. Chaturvedi was referring to a tweet by the former Chief Minister and Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who on July 9 said this slogan, first used by BJP leader L.K. Advani during his Rath Yatra in 1990, was being raised in Bhopal — ostensibly to mock Mr. Raghavji, accused of sodomy. Raghav is another name for Lord Ram.
Mr. Chaturvedi’s intervention surprised the Opposition and most of the treasury benches alike. He continued his speech repeating the slogan as BJP leaders stood up and chanted “Shame” and, “Name the man who made the comment.”
Amidst the din of sloganeering by the BJP, it dawned upon the Congress that it had been betrayed. Mr. Ajay Singh stood up and asked Congress MLAs who supported the motion to stand up with him. All except Mr. Chaturvedi and Mahendra Singh Kalukheda stood up. Mr. Kalukheda raised his hand in support. The disruption forced the Speaker to adjourn the House for half hour. The Congress was unable to present its 27-point charge sheet against the government, which included allegations of corruption against Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s family, even after the House reconvened.
“The BJP and Shivraj Chouhan don’t have the guts to face the charges. Honourable Speaker, you can’t dismiss the no-confidence motion because of one MLA,” said Mr. Ajay Singh. On a request by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Narottam Mishra, Mr. Rohani adjourned the House indefinitely. This was the last session before the Assembly polls.
Soon after, Mr. Chaturvedi drove with Mr. Chouhan to the State BJP headquarters, where he accepted the membership of the party. BJP State president Narendra Tomar said, “It is a rare moment in democracy when one follows his soul over his party ... The doors of the BJP are open for you.” Mr. Chaturvedi replied, “I am grateful for your help in my battle of principles. I will give every moment of my life to the BJP.”
Mr. Chaturvedi has won four Assembly elections as a Congressman since 1990. He was dismissed from the Congress on Thursday evening. His father Dilip Singh was a BJP MLA.
Mr. Ajay Singh told the press that Mr. Chaturvedi, his second-in-command, had literally stabbed him in the back as he sat right behind him. “He never raised any objections at CLP meetings. This could not have taken place without a suitcase from Shivraj. These tactics to prevent debate is fascism.”
Thakur- Brahmin rivalry
In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, a senior BJP leader, who, according to multiple senior sources, plotted the defection, said the roots of the drama lay in caste rivalries in the Chambal Valley. “Rakesh Singh Chaturvedi [a Brahmin] was stifled by the presence of Govind Singh [a Thakur], a greater leader than him, in Bhind. We began working on him after he was expelled [and later readmitted] from the Assembly in the previous monsoon session.”
The Thakur-Brahmin rivalry causes a lot of violence in the Chambal division. He said Thakurs like Mr. Digvijaya Singh, Mr. Ajay Singh, K.P. Singh and Govind Singh dominate the Madhya Pradesh Congress. The senior BJP leader added that it was he and Mr. Narottam Mishra (both Brahmins) who approached Mr. Chaturvedi.
“He is from a BJP family. He has no ideology so it was easy to turn him. We planned to make him defect before elections. But it was Shivraj’s will that he be used to demoralise the Congress and stall the no-confidence motion,” said the leader, who is also a member of the RSS.
This report has been corrected for a typographical error which misspelt Mr Digvijaya Singh