After a hectic round of politicking in New Delhi, the Congress finally submitted names of nominees for the posts of Deputy Speaker and Leader of Opposition.
The first batch of 193 out of 230 MLAs was sworn in by Pro-tem Speaker K. D. Deshmukh in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday. Among them, Babulal Gaur and Kailash Vijaywargiya — both from the castes that were historically denied Sanskrit education — took their oath in the classical language.
First-time MLA Divyaraj Singh of the BJP took his oath in English. Mr. Singh is the scion of the Rewa royal family.
After a hectic round of politicking in New Delhi, the Congress finally submitted names of nominees for the posts of Deputy Speaker and Leader of Opposition. Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Kantilal Bhuria met Principal Secretary (Vidhan Sabha) Rajkumar Pande and proposed the names of Satyadev Katare for Opposition Leader and Rajendra Singh for Deputy Speaker.
On Sunday, All-India Congress Committee (AICC) observers met party MLAs individually to know their choice for the Leader of Opposition. In the lead was former Leader of Opposition Ajay Singh followed by Mahendra Kalukheda — a loyalist of the Scindia royal family. To end the power struggle, the Congress leadership appointed Katare, a Scindia loyalist, and Rajendra Singh, a relative of former CM Digvijaya Singh.
The MPCC has also announced that Bala Bachchan, a supporter of Union Urban Development Minister Kamal Nath, will be the Deputy Leader of the Congress Legislature Party. Mr. Bachchan however said that he would prefer not to accept the post. “I am currently an AICC secretary and I am not sure if holding two posts violates the party’s directives. I can continue raising people’s issues as an ordinary MLA while remaining AICC secretary,” he told The Hindu.
A Congress source said that Mr. Bachchan, a senior tribal leader, was not interested in the post as it has no constitutional status. Ajay Singh, who found himself marginalised organisationally and politically after the announcements, said he wasn’t in the race for the post of MPCC president. Mr. Bhuria had offered to resign after the poll debacle.
“I am not in the race for any post. I will fulfil whatever duty the party gives me,” he said.
Sources close to Mr. Singh said that his rising stature had created considerable nervousness within the AICC in Delhi. “Only his candidates did well and he single-handedly took on the government on corruption. He is now known as Ajay Singh and not just as the son of (former CM) Arjun Singh. This seems to be a decision to prevent him from becoming too powerful,” a former minister said.
Youth Congress workers caned
Meanwhile, the State police used force to disperse Youth Congress members trying to gherao the Assembly demanding a CBI probe into the scams in the Professional Examination Board. Youth Congress State president Kunal Chaudhary and vice-president Rashmi Pawar were arrested.
A delegation led by Mr. Bhuria urged Governor Ram Naresh Yadav to call for a CBI probe and demanded unconditional release of the activists. Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan said that honest police officers were probing the case and none would be spared.