Hope for Scindia?

Hope for Scindia?

MP in deep turmoil; 17 pro-Scindia MLAs flown to Bengaluru, Nath meets Sonia

Scindia in Delhi, likely to meet Modi; Congress trying to negotiate compromise

Agency Report | New Delhi/Bengaluru | 9 March, 2020 | 07:50 AM

The Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh is teetering on the edge and sulking party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia seems to be at the core of the crisis. Sources say 17 Congress MLAs loyal to the former MP -- including six ministers -- have been flown by a chartered flight to Bengaluru in BJP-ruled Karnataka. Jyotiraditya Scindia, once close to the Gandhis, is in Delhi and the Congress is desperately trying to negotiate a compromise but a solution seems increasingly unlikely. Senior Congress leaders say the speed and determination with which Scindia dispatched the MLAs to Bengaluru signals he has decided to go for broke. Party leaders fear that this time, the Madhya Pradesh crisis may have reached a point of no return.

The Kamal Nath government has 120 MLAs – just four over the majority mark of 116 in the 230-member assembly. Of them, 114 are from the Congress, two from the BSP, one from the Samajwadi Party and four independents. The BJP has 107 MLAs, and two seats are currently vacant. If 17 exit, the Congress will lose its second state since Karnataka. Bengaluru has been the go-to hideout for rebel Congress MLAs and others apparently ready to switch loyalties from the 15-month Kamal Nath government.
Last Tuesday, reports of a dozen Congress MLAs camping at a five-star hotel near Delhi first raised the spectre of the BJP toppling the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, which has a fragile majority.
After midnight, one independent MLA was dramatically escorted out with her bags by senior Congress leaders. Later, more returned, some declaring that they were unhappy at being denied ministries.
On Sunday, it seemed that all but two “missing” MLAs were accounted for and the crisis may have blown over for the Congress. Signs of fresh trouble popped up again on Monday with reports of a possible meeting between Scindia and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The past two years have been politically less than promising for Scindia junior, whose father Madhavrao Scindia was a senior Congress leader while grandmother Vijayraje was a BJP stalwart. Two of his aunts are also in the BJP.
Scindia, 49, lost out in the race for chief ministership in December 2018 when he was able to get the support of only 23 MLAs despite a sizeable contribution to the Congress’s victory in Madhya Pradesh after 15 years. Kamal Nath took over as Chief Minister and also retained control of the state Congress unit.
Then Congress chief Rahul Gandhi was able to assuage Scindia briefly by naming him general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh along with his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, for last year’s national election, but the party crashed miserably in the state.
Scindia, who barely campaigned in his own constituency Guna in Madhya Pradesh, also lost the election in his own home turf for the first time since 2002.
Over the past few months, a crisis has been cooking for the Congress in Madhya Pradesh with a three-way split between groups led by Kamal Nath, Jyotiraditya Scindia and former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh. The feuding bubbled just beneath the surface as the central Congress struggled to address a leadership vacuum after Rahul Gandhi’s exit over the party’s national election defeat.
In November, Scindia appeared to drop a big hint by changing his Twitter bio to remove any reference to his political credo and calling himself a public servant and cricket enthusiast.

According to airport sources, about 10 persons, including Bankim Silawat, the son of Congress Minister Tulsi Silawat, and Scindia’s close aide Purushottam Parashar, flew from the national capital to Bengaluru in a Falcon 2000 aircraft.

A source said that the chartered flight left from Delhi at 8 a.m. and reached Bengaluru by 10.40 a.m.

Apart from the two close Scindia associates, the others were Rajyawardhan Singh, Pradhuman Singh Tomar, Giriraj, Raksha Sinoriya, Jaswant Jatav, Suresh Dhakad, Jajpal Singh and Brijendra Yadav.

Asked about who booked the flight, the source refused to share any details.

The shocker for the Madhya Pradesh government comes on a day when Chief Minister Kamal Nath met Congress chief Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi and briefed her about the current political situation in the state following the last week attempt to topple the government.

The party witnessed witnessed a political slugfest over the last few weeks, giving a scare to the Congress state government.

Last week, 10 MLAs had gone ‘missing’ but eight of them have returned to the state, the latest being Congress’ Bisahu Lal Singh, who met Kamal Nath in Bhopal on Sunday. after returning from Bengaluru.

Two MLAs, Raghuraj Singh Kansana and Hardeep Singh Dang, have still not been traced. Dang had sent his resignation to the Speaker and Kamal Nath.

Meanwhile, three rebel BJP MLAs met Chief Minister Kamal Nath late on Thursday as two of them have openly revolted but the third one Sanjay Tripathi has said he is not leaving the BJP.
Amid the political crisis in Madhya Pradesh ahead of the Rajya Sabha elections, chief minister Kamal Nath met Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi.

Sources say the two leaders discussed the cabinet expansion as well as the coming Rajya Sabha elections slated for later this month.

After the meeting, Kamal Nath said, “I have discussed many issues with her and will follow the instructions given by the Congress president.”

Back in Bhopal, there is hectic lobbying going on over the cabinet expansion as independent MLAs are likely to be inducted into the cabinet which may be expanded after the Holi celebrations.

Congress MLA Bisahu Lal Singh met Kamal Nath in Bhopal on Sunday after returning from Bengaluru.

Bisahu Lal Singh is one of the 10 MLAs who ‘disappeared’, however, seven have already returned and he is the eighth MLA.

Meanwhile, three rebel BJP MLAs met Chief Minister Kamal Nath late on Thursday as two of them have openly revolted but the third one Sanjay Tripathi has said he is not leaving the BJP.

After the turmoil, the dust is settling in Bhopal as the Congress has started ‘reverse poaching’. Now the real test will be in the Rajya Sabha elections where the fight for the second seat could be a close one. As per the arithmetic, the Congress and the BJP are sure to get one seat each in the indirect Rajya Sabha polls. The tussle is on for the third seat for which non-BJP and non-Congress MLAs are being lured by the rival parties.