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Madhya Pradesh political crisis | Kamal Nath government faces crucial test of strength

Confident gesture: Congress MLAs arrive in Bhopal from Jaipur on March 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: A.M. Faruqui

The fate of the Congress-led government in Madhya Pradesh is set to be decided in a floor test on Monday.

Although 92 Congress and four Independent MLAs returned to Bhopal from Jaipur on Sunday, there was no sign of either the 107 BJP or 16 rebel Congress MLAs until late on Sunday evening.

Also read | Confidence motion not listed on first day of Madhya Pradesh Assembly schedule

The Kamal Nath government was pushed to the brink following the exit of senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia and the block of 16 lawmakers owing allegiance to him.

It will now have to secure the votes of at least 112 MLAs to prove its simple majority in the Assembly, which has an effective strength of 222 after the resignation of six Congress MLAs and the death of two MLAs in the 230-member House.

Both the Congress and the BJP have issued three-line whips to their MLAs, directing them to attend all Assembly sessions from March 16 to April 13.

The Samajwadi Party has also issued a whip to its lone MLA to vote in favour of the government. However, there has been no direction for the two BSP MLAs who have so far backed the Congress government.

Directing Mr. Nath to take the floor test after his address in the Assembly, Governor Lalji Tandon, in a letter issued at 12.30 a.m. on Sunday, stated his “prima facie belief” was that the government had lost trust of the Assembly and was in a minority. He wrote that the test must be conducted in any condition, shouldn’t be “postponed, delayed or suspended”. Earlier, BJP leaders had claimed the Congress was attempting to stall the test.

Also read: BJP seeks voting by raising of hands in floor test

Meanwhile, 16 rebel Congress MLAs owing allegiance to Mr. Scindia, responding to Speaker N.P. Prajapati’s notice directing them to appear before him in person to attest their resignations, said that given “the bad law and order situation” and “uncertainty” in the State, they would not be able to appear before him. The resignaions of the MLAs, oresently in Bengaluru, were submitted to the Speaker by BJP leaders.

In verbatim letters, the MLAs wrote: “The way you had accepted resignations of six MLAs on March 14, kindly accept mine too.” After six rebel Ministers failed to appear before him despite being given two days for it, Mr. Prajapati on Saturday had accepted their resignations, stating they were not fit to be members.

Following the letters, the Governor requested the State government to provide the MLAs CAPF security. On Sunday, Home Minister Bala Bachchan said the MLAs, “held in captivity by the BJP in Bengaluru,” could seek protection of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), if they required, so that they could return to Bhopal.

As nine rebel MLAs failed to appear before the Speaker on Sunday despite being served notices, Mr. Prajapati said, “As the Vidhan Sabha Speaker, I am the protector of those MLAs. I am worried, being a protector, what is happening to the honourable members. And this is a question mark on democracy.”

Also read | Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker says decision on holding floor test will be announced on March 16

Mr. Nath on Saturday had requested Union Home Minister Amit Shah to ensure the “release” of the MLAs by the police of BJP-ruled Karnataka, and assured them full protection in Madhya Pradesh. He had said there was no point in demanding a floor test if MLAs were “being held hostage outside”.

Writing to the Governor on Friday, Mr. Nath had confirmed he was ready for the test, even as he requested inquiry into BJP leaders submitting resignations of Congress MLAs who were “in captivity” in Bengaluru and accused BJP of conspiring to subvert the government. A day later, BJP vice president Shivraj Singh Chouhan said he was ready for a test, requesting the Governor for division of votes and videography of proceedings.

The first signs of a political turmoil in the State emerged on the intervening night of March 3 and 4, when two Ministers claimed to have freed six MLAs, including independents and BSP and SP members, from a poaching bid by the BJP at a hotel in Haryana. Meanwhile, four MLAs were believed to be taken to Bengaluru, with two of them returning to Bhopal later and pledging allegiance to the Congress government.

Then on March 9, 19 MLAs supporting Mr. Scindia went incommunicado and were believed to have moved to Bengaluru, giving jitters to the government, whose 16 Ministers tendered resignations to Mr. Nath the same night, in an attempt to placate the rebels and make space for them. Yet, as Mr. Scindia quit the Congress a day later, as many as 22 MLAs, pledging allegiance to him, tendered resignations to the Speaker through BJP leaders, while remaining in Bengaluru themselves.

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Printable version | May 10, 2021 10:17:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/madhya-pradesh-political-crisis-kamal-nath-government-faces-crucial-test-of-strength/article31077036.ece

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