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Rebels in Bengaluru speaking under duress, must be freed immediately: Madhya Pradesh Minister

Narottam Mishra. File   | Photo Credit: A. M. Faruqui

Reacting to Congress rebels’ assertion that they are in Bengaluru of their own will, Madhya Pradesh Law Minister P.C. Sharma on Tuesday reiterated that they were making such remarks under duress, as all of them stood by the government just 10 days back.

Also read: Kamal Nath rules out floor test after meeting Governor

At a press conference at the Pradesh Congress Committee office here, workers played videos of three rebels, first removed as Ministers and whose resignations as lawmakers were accepted recently, to portray they vouched for the Kamal Nath government for keeping poll promises, publicised its schemes and even hit back at the BJP .

Parliament proceedings as it happened on March 17, 2020

“How could their minds change in just 10 days? This clearly shows they are speaking under duress. They must be freed immediately so that they can take a call on their political future on their own,” said Mr. Sharma.

In Bengaluru, the 16 MLAs pledged their allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia who recently crossed over to the BJP, but on the question of joining the party in tow, they said they would think over it.

'No family members present'

Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker N.P. Prajapati also informed Governor Lalji Tandon that the MLAs, had written their resignations under duress, as neither they nor their family members had appeared before him during submissions.

“If the resignation letters were presented willingly, then wouldn’t have their family members, acquaintances or their workers been present? This confirms the apprehension that surely the letters have been written under pressure,” Mr Prajapati wrote to Mr. Tandon. “Isn’t this apparently a violation of the fundamental Right to Freedom under the Constitution?

As for the MLAs, pledging allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia who had switched over to the BJP, releasing videos on social media and holding press conferences to reassert they were in Bengaluru of their own accord, Mr. Prajapati asked: “Like other politicians of the State, are they giving statements before the press willingly in an independent atmosphere without fear?”

Earlier, the Speaker had served notices on 22 rebel MLAs, reportedly held hostage by the BJP at a resort, asking them to appear before him to attest their resignations that were submitted by BJP leaders. So far, Mr. Prajapati has accepted resignations of six MLAs, who were removed as Ministers earlier, claiming they were not fit to be members as they failed to appear on two occasions.

On March 15, the BJP made public letters ostensibly written by the 16 MLAs to the Speaker that given “the bad law and order situation” and “uncertainty” in the State, they would not be able to appear before him. They requested him to accept their resignation as he had done for the six Ministers.

Mr. Prajapati wrote to the Governor that despite directions to them under rule 276-1(B) relating to the functioning of the Vidhan Sabha to appear before the Speaker, they had failed to appear. And even during the session on March 16, they remained absent.

“Family members of some of them have even expressed concern over their security,” he wrote, “As the presiding Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, I am extremely worried about these members going missing.”

He appealed to the Governor to ensure the return of the “missing MLAs”, to quell apprehensions of their family members and relatives.

Held in captivity, says Nath

Amid relentless demands of the BJP to hold the floor test, Chief Minister Kamal Nath has repeatedly stated before the Governor that there was no point to it if the MLAs continued to be “ held in captivity” allegedly by the BJP and under the protection of the Karnataka police.

Without these MLAs, Congress is left with 92 legislators, while two BSP, an SP and an independent MLA have backed the government in the past. On the other hand, the BJP has 107 MLAs in the 230-member house, where the effective strength is 222 and the majority mark is 112.

And the BJP accused the Congress government of “pressing, threatening and luring” families of rebels using government officials. Party vice president and former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “We are preparing a list of such officials, and want to make it clear they won’t be spared. It would be wise for them to stick to their administrative roles, and not immorally interfere in politics.”

Also read: Supreme Court tells M.P. govt to respond to Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s plea by March 18

On Tuesday, Returning Officer A.P. Singh accepted Rajya Sabha nominations of Mr. Scindia and Sumer Singh Solanki of the BJP after considering written objections of Congress nominees Digvijaya Singh and Phool Singh Baraiya, who sought the rejection of their nominations on Monday. While Mr. Digvijaya Singh claimed Mr. Scindia had not furnished details pertaining to cases pending against him, Mr. Baraiya contended that Mr. Solanki’s nomination must be rejected as his resignation as a lecturer at a government college was accepted only a day after he filed his nomination on March 13.

The BJP has rubbished Mr. Nath’s claim on Monday night that it had moved a no-confidence motion in the Vidhan Sabha, and the Congress-led government was ready to prove its majority.

The Congress government was employing all means to save itself now, BJP chief whip in the Assembly Narottam Mishra said. “They are spreading a new lie that we have brought a no-confidence motion. We didn’t bring any such motion. In a notice for it, there are accusations and proofs, and it’s altogether a different process.”

BJP’s affidavit

Instead, the BJP had filed an affidavit with the Speaker relating to the “wilful disobedience” by Mr. Nath of the Governor’s direction to hold a floor test on Monday, he said.

Mr. Nath called on Governor Lalji Tandon on Monday night to thank him for the address to the Assembly, as before a vote of thanks could be given earlier in the day, the Assembly was adjourned.

Speaking with reporters later, Mr. Nath said, “I have discussed the present political situation in the State with him, and informed him we were fine with everything under the ambit of the Constitution and law.”

After the address, Mr. Tandon advised members that given the turmoil in the State those with responsibility should “work independently” and “stick to Constitutional principles”.

Mr. Nath said, “The BJP is saying repeatedly that we don’t have a majority, and demanding a floor test. So, we told them if they believed so, they should bring in a no-confidence motion. Today, they have brought it, and given the proposal to the Speaker. We will prove our majority. And in addition, those 16 MLAs held hostage should also be brought, and made independent.”

Reacting, Mr. Mishra said, “Since those held hostage are from your party, why should we bring them back? Moreover, if you have a majority in the House, then what’s the problem with a floor test?"

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 6:56:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/did-not-move-no-confidence-motion-in-madhya-pradesh-assembly-says-bjp-chief-whip-narottam-mishra/article31089368.ece

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