Madhya Pradesh crisis | Kamal Nath resigns ahead of floor test; BJP set to form government

With a strength of 104 MLAs in truncated House, saffron party has clear majority.

March 20, 2020 01:24 pm | Updated March 21, 2020 01:06 am IST - Bhopal

“I will continue to stick to my values. This is my strength,” Kamal Nath told reporters at his official residence, ahead of the floor test scheduled in the afternoon, in the presence of Ministers on the dais.

“I will continue to stick to my values. This is my strength,” Kamal Nath told reporters at his official residence, ahead of the floor test scheduled in the afternoon, in the presence of Ministers on the dais.

Ending 18 days of political drama, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath on Friday afternoon submitted his resignation to Governor Lalji Tandon , ahead of the Supreme Court-mandated floor test .

Mr. Nath said he would rather stick to his political values and principles of 40 years than compromise. “I will continue to stick to my values. This is my strength,” he told reporters at his official residence.

“I will continue to struggle along with each member of the Congress family in people’s interest.” Mr. Tandon accepted his resignation and asked Mr. Nath to continue as caretaker Chief Minister, Raj Bhavan sources said.

Earlier on Thursday night, M.P. Assembly Speaker N.P. Prajapati accepted the resignation of 16 rebel Congress MLAs , who have been in a resort in Bengaluru since March 9, sealing the fate of the embattled government. The Speaker had accepted resignation of six rebel MLAs on March 14.

The strength of the Congress in the 231-member House was down to 92. On Friday morning, BJP MLA Sharad Kol, who in the past had crossvoted with the Congress, also quit. With the resignations, the strength of the Assembly stands at 205, with the simple majority mark at 103. The BJP with 104 MLAs has a clear majority. Moments after the government fell, BJP leader Arvind Bhadoriya said independent MLAs as well those from the BSP and the SP had shifted their support to the saffron party.

In his resignation letter to Mr. Tandon, Mr. Nath wrote: “In the 40 years of my public life, I have always practised politics of principles and given precedence to democratic values. Whatever has happened in the past two weeks, it is a new chapter in the devaluation of democratic values.” 

Mr. Nath offered his best wishes to the next Chief Minister and said his cooperation would be with him in the development of the State at all times. “I have never fallen for the politics of auction and transactions. I have done clean politics,” the Congress leader said. 

Speaking to reporters later after Mr. Nath’s resignation, former Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan, who is the front runner for the top post again, said the Congress-led government had fallen under its own weight.

“The BJP has never been in the game of saving or toppling governments. The situation turned so explosive that Congress’s own friends got upset seeing the State’s downfall under Mr. Nath,” he added. Those around Mr. Nath, including Congress MP Digvijaya Singh, created such a situation that the government fell, Mr. Chouhan said, adding: “They must introspect.”

Other BJP leaders in the running for chief minister are party chief whip Narottam Mishra as well as Union Ministers Narendra Singh Tomar from Gwalior, and Thawar Chand Gehlot from Nagda, a prominent face for the party from the Scheduled Castes. 

Taking to Twitter, former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, whose switch to the BJP along with a bloc of 22 MLAs triggered the collapse of the 15-month Nath government, declared that the people of the State had won.

 “I have always believed that politics should be a medium of public service, however the State government strayed from this path. Truth has won again,” he said.

"It is my resolve," Mr. Nath avowed, "that whether we are in power or not, we'll continue working for the youth, the backward and farmers."

Claiming that the BJP was worried that the State was moving ahead in a new direction, Mr. Nath said, “They feared our pro-people politics. And the State’s people are witness to their betrayal towards them. I worked day and night to transform the profile of the State, elevate it to an international pedestal.”

The BJP thought its conspiracy would succeed, he added, but it wouldn’t. “Our MLAs were whisked away to Bengaluru; who paid for it, who pressed them, everything will come out in the open soon. One needs to remember after today, there is tomorrow, and after tomorrow there is the day after. And the day after tomorrow will come. The public is witness.”

Listing his achievements during his tenure, Mr. Nath claimed the government had kept 400 poll promises in 15 months. "We waived loans, gave electricity subsidy and land titles to adivasis and tried to arrest the spiralling unemployment rate among the youth. The BJP couldn't accept any of this."

Mr. Nath further accused the BJP, which ruled the State for 15 years previously, for nurturing the mafia that he attempted to get rid of the State. "Along with Maharaj (Jyotiraditya Scindia) and 22 others, they scripted this game to murder democratic values. They have been on it from Day 1. Throughout my term, my attempt was not to take the Congress to the palace, but bring the palace to it. "

“The entire State has watched. The public is a witness,” he cautioned. “Luring our 22 MLAs and holding them hostage in bengaluru, crores of money being spent as lurements. Everyone has watched it, and people won’t forget those who betrayed them.”

On three occasions in the past, the Congress-led government had proved its majority in the past 15 months, he said. “The BJP couldn’t digest our welfare schemes. We were given the opportunity for five years to course correct the State, so that it is compared with bigger and not smaller States.”

Chauhan meets Nath

In the evenning, Mr. Chauhan met Mr. Nath at the latter’s residence. It is not clear what was discussed. The BJP legislature party meeting is likely on March 21.

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