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Madhya Pradesh political crisis | Kamal Nath rules out floor test after meeting Governor

A bus carrying Madhya Pradesh Congress Party MLAs leaves from Raja Bhoj Airport, in Bhopal, Sunday, March 15, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Capping a day of hectic political activity, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath called on Governor Lalji Tandon at the Raj Bhavan late on Monday night. He later ruled out holding a floor test in the Assembly, claiming that his government enjoyed a majority.

The late night meeting followed a letter from the Governor directing the Nath-led Congress government to hold a floor test on Tuesday after Speaker N.P. Prajapati earlier adjourned the House till March 26 in view of the COVID-19 threat.


An immediate floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha is unlikely, as the Assembly Speaker on Monday, the first day of the Budget session, adjourned the House to March 26 in view of the novel coronavirus threat, giving a breather to the embattled Congress government. 

However, the Supreme Court will on Tuesday urgently hear a petition filed by former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other BJP MLAs seeking the holding of a vote of confidence on the floor of the Assembly against the Kamalnath-led government.

Also read: Uncertainty over floor test in Madhya Pradesh

After the Governor’s address, Speaker N.P. Prajapati, amid raucous scenes, announced that the session would be adjourned, giving relief to the 92 Congress MLAs, who raised slogans against the BJP thereafter in the House. 

“During the Vidhan Sabha session, honourable members and people can’t be stopped from being in groups or meeting anyone,” said Mr. Prajapati. “Considering the health of the honourable members, historic steps taken by other Vidhan Sabhas, advisory issued by the Government of India and in larger public interest, the proceedings of the Vidhan Sabha have been adjourned until March 26.”


Although the BJP has moved the Supreme Court on the test, Governor Lalji Tandon on Monday wrote to Chief Minister Kamala Nath requesting him to hold the test and prove the majority by Tuesday, while “respecting constitutional and democratic values”. He wrote, “Otherwise, it will be considered at present you don’t have a majority in the Vidhan Sabha.”

Speaking with reporters after the adjournment, Mr. Nath dared the BJP to move a no-confidence motion in the Assembly. “If they want a floor test, claiming we don't have a majority, they should bring a no-confidence motion against my government. Why are they shying away from it? We will prove our majority.”

Also read: Madhya Pradesh crisis | BJP legislators return to Bhopal after 5 days in Haryana

Before the adjournment announcement, Congress chief whip Govind Singh appealed to the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings owing to the disease threat, while Leader of the Opposition (LoP) Gopal Bhargava read out a letter of the Governor to the Chief Minister directing him to take the test on Monday in any condition. 

“Honourable Speaker, you have been directed to hold the floor test,” said the LoP, to which Mr. Prajapati responded: “I haven’t received any direction directly from him.”


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

Congress MLAs raise slogans

Meanwhile, Congress MLAs raised slogans of “bring back Congress MLAs” in the Assembly. As of Monday, 16 rebel Congress MLAs, reportedly pledging allegiance to Jyotiraditya Scindia, are still in a Bengaluru resort.

Also read: In midnight drama, Congress ‘rescues’ Madhya Pradesh MLAs

In the letter to Mr. Nath on Sunday, Mr. Tandon directed him to secure the vote of confidence of the House on Monday, in any condition, without delaying, suspending or postponing the session, as his “prima facie belief” was the government was in minority. 

Mr. Nath has contended there was no point in a test as long as the 16 MLAs were held “in captivity” by the BJP in Bengaluru under the protection of the Karnataka police.


Late on Sunday, he said: “The decision on the test will be taken by the Speaker. The Speaker will do his job, while I’ll do mine.” Earlier, he had called upon the Governor to hold a test, on a date fixed by the Speaker. 

The possibility of a test was put in doubt as the business of the House mentioned only the Governor’s address and the vote of thanks, prompting Mr. Bhargava to approach the Governor late on Sunday.

In his address, Mr. Tandon said the government was committed to keeping all its promises. “With the empty coffers it inherited, the government had the challenge to fulfil promises made in the manifesto and make the State corruption-free. Despite the challenge, the government has kept a record 365 promises in 365 days.” He read just the first of the 36-page address. 

Outside the Assembly, Minister Lakhan Singh Yadav asserted that the Congress was entirely ready for a floor test. 

BJP parades MLAs

Meanwhile, the BJP paraded its 106 MLAs to the Raj Bhavan to show that they had the numbers. MLA Narayan Tripathi, who in the previous budget session voted in favour of a Bill tabled by the Congress, was not a part of it.


Claiming that the government was in minority, Mr. Chouhan said, “If they had a majority, then what was the issue in having a test? But the Chief Minister knows his government is in minority and that is why he didn’t heed the Governor's direction.” 

Prior to Mr. Scindia switching sides, the strength of the Congress in the Assembly was 114. As many as 22 MLAs had tendered their resignations, of which six have been accepted. Four independent, two BSP and an SP MLA had been supporting the government, at least openly before the political crisis.

After six resignations and two deaths earlier, the effective strength of the House has been reduced to 222. That makes 112 the simple majority mark. For the Kamal Nath government to win the floor test, it needs the support of at least 112 MLAs. The BJP has 107 MLAs.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:56:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mp-assembly-session-live-suspense-over-floor-test/article31080509.ece

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