Stunning the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is exulting over the collapse of the Congress government in Karnataka, two of its MLAs on Wednesday voted in favour of an amendment to the criminal procedure code in the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.
Terming it a ghar waapsi (homecoming), Maihar legislator Narayan Tripathi told reporters, “In the previous government, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had made tall promises in my constituency, but delivered nothing. There was also an attempt within the party to sabotage my election. The Congress is my old home and I am headed back to it. I’ll do whatever is the best for my constituency.” The MLA had switched to the BJP in 2014.
With the positive vote of Beohari MLA Sharad Kol as well, the Criminal Law (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed in the Assembly with the support of 122 MLAs, even though the ruling coalition has the support of 121 MLAs, including Speaker N.P. Prajapati, who didn’t vote. The Congress enjoys the support of one Samajwadi Party, two Bahujan Samaj Party and four independent MLAs, whereas the BJP has 109 MLAs in the Assembly.
Later in the day, Chief Minister Kamal Nath, sitting with the dissenting MLAs, told reporters, “The BJP claims we are a minority government which can fall any day. But today, during the voting on the amendment, two of their MLAs voted in our favour.”
Congratulating the MLAs on their homecoming, Congress leader Jyotiraditya M. Scindia tweeted that their vote in favour of the party showed their faith in its government’s policies. “Moreover, they had shown the mirror to BJP leaders who say ours is a minority government... We have full faith that our government will push forward development with conviction.”
The developments come hours after Mr. Nath and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Gopal Bhargava parlayed over the stability of the government. Mr. Bhargava had hinted at the government’s wobbly foundation, given the Congress lost the trust vote to the BJP in the Karnataka Assembly on Tuesday.
On the floor of the house, Mr. Bhargava claimed one instruction from the top leadership of the BJP was enough to topple the Congress government in the State within 24 hours.
Stating that the Congress was ready to prove its majority any time, Mr. Nath hit back: “The number one and two at your top are wise. That’s why they are not giving any orders.”
Contrasting Mr. Bhargava’s statement, former Chief Minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chauhan in June had said his party was not attempting to dislodge the government . It may fall on its own “due to infighting”.
The Congress was ready for a floor test in the Assembly any time, but the BJP shied away from it, claimed State Congress media Chief Shobha Oza, “Whenever we had an opportunity to prove our majority, they walked away under some pretext or the other. Even after the budget was presented, they had an opportunity to challenge us. But they didn’t.”
She said the BJP was trying to create a threat perception by claiming the coalition partners could be pulled away easily. “They are just spreading rumours and trying to lure our MLAs for the past seven months. They even tried to lure one of our tribal MLAs with ₹50 crore recently. But our MLAs understand their responsibility in serving the people who voted for them for their Congress ticket.”
BJP State media chief Lokendra Parashar refused to comment.