Rajya Sabha Congress member Syed Naseer Hussain says many of the rebel Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs are mulling a return to the party after Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP.
The Congress MP from Karnataka said that many of the 22 rebel MLAs currently in BJP’s ‘safekeeping’ in Bengaluru, are in touch with newly-appointed Karnataka PCC chief D.K. Shivakumar.
Hussain said that the rebels had supported Scindia in his claims for a Rajya Sabha nomination and his appointment as Madhya Pradesh PCC chief but not for joining the BJP. So, many MLAs are in touch to return, he said.
He accused the BJP of trying to usurp power by unfair means wherever the mandate is against it.
The Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh is facing a political crisis after prominent state leader Scindia bid farewell to the party on Tuesday and joined the BJP on Wednesday.
Ahead of the Rajya Sabha polls on March 26, Madhya Pradesh has been witnessing political turmoil for the past 10 days with the ruling Congress and opposition BJP trying to take control of the 230-member Assembly.
Before the crisis broke out, the Congress with 114 members of its own and the support of independents and marginal players, enjoyed the support of 121 members in the House.
The Congress has ferried its MLAs from Madhya Pradesh to Jaipur in Rajasthan for ‘safekeeping’. The BJP has also stepped up efforts to keep its flock of 107 MLAs together by ferrying them to Gurugram.
A dozen of Madhya Pradesh Congress leaders, including two ministers were detained near the airport when they tried to meet the 19 party rebel legislators who refused to meet them, police said on Thursday.
“We had to detain the leaders, including two ministers Jitu Patwari and Lakhan Singh at Embassy Boulevard Club near the airport, as the rebel MLAs didn’t want to meet them at the resort where they are staying or anywhere outside,” a police official told IANS.
Though the dozen leaders flew into the city from Bhopal earlier in the day to meet the rebels and change their mind, but the police did not allow them to proceed to the resort (Prestige Golfshire), which is at Yelahanka in the city’s northern outskirts and on way to the airport at Devanahalli.
“Incidentally, a rebel MLA – Manoj Chaudhary came to the club after he learnt that his father too flew in to the city. But the police did not allow them to meet because the rebels gave in writing to the police chief that they do not want to meet anyone,” a party source told IANS on the condition of anonymity.
The visiting leaders were let off after a while.
In response to a letter the rebel MLAs wrote to the Karnataka director general of police (DGP) Praveen Sood on Monday seeking security for their safety, the Bengaluru Rural district police deployed additional personnel in around the resort since Tuesday.
“The rebels have told the resort management and the police on duty not to allow anyone inside who wants to meet or talk to them as they are unwilling to do so,” the source quipped.
As directed by the DGP, movement of people, including guests are screened and vehicles entering the resort are checked to ensure the safety and security of the rebel lawmakers.
Special arrangements have been made at Manesar’s ITC Grand for Madhya Pradesh’s 106 BJP MLAs who are accommodated at the Studio Apartment Villa area adjoining the five-star hotel. The areas around the main entrance of the hotel and the villa are being guarded by Haryana police’s CID wing, scores of policemen and a host of BJP leaders.
None of the MLAs is allowed to contact unknown persons, sources said.
There is a conference room in the villa area where senior BJP leaders discuss strategies with the party MLAs, the sources said.
Most of hotel’s comforts kept for the MLAs such as personal swimming pool and a courtyard and entertainment and dining areas are separated from the main hotel compound.
The hotel, located near Haryana’s Gurugram, is about 50 km from national capital Delhi.
A hotel employee said that hotel security personnel too are keeping an eye on the MLAs. “The entire corridor from the main hotel compound to the villa is guarded by CCTV cameras. No outsider is allowed to enter the area. Besides, no hotel employee is allowed to make any video clip on one’s mobile phone,” said the hotel employee.
The hotel hosts most of foreign guests from Delhi NCR. But no foreign tourist is allowed to enter the area reserved for the MLAs.
Earlier BJP MLAs from Karnataka too were kept in the ITC Grand.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Thursday that since he is not the party chief, he is not the deciding authority on the ticket distribution in the party.
“I am not the party president and I am not taking decisions on Rajya Sabha nominees,” said Rahul when asked if he was sending “his team” to the Rajya Sabha.
On Jyotiraditya Scindia’s joining the BJP, he said: “It’s a battle of ideology… Scindia has kept his ideology in his pocket and joined the RSS. But I know him personally since college days…Scindia has a different ideology… but he thought about his political future… but he may not find comfort in the party he has joined.”
“This is a fight of ideology. On one side it is Congress and on the other, the BJP-RSS,” he said.
Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday dismissed Scidia’s claim that he was unable to meet him or interim party chief Sonia Gandhi, saying Scindia had the access at all times to the Gandhi household.
After joining the BJP, Scindia hit out at the Congress, saying, “The Congress today is not the same as it was in its original form.”
He also accused the Congress of denying the ground reality. “I had a dream when Congress formed the government in Madhya Pradesh in 2018. Eighteen months later, none of the promises have been met, including the ones relating to the farmers,” Scindia said.
He also accused his former party of going back on its promises as well as indulging in corruption. “Today ‘transfer’ is an industry in Madhya Pradesh,” he alleged, hitting out at Chief Minister Kamal Nath.
Scindia was reportedly upset after being sidelined by the Congress in his home state Madhya Pradesh.
With a question mark hanging over the survival of the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh, former Chief Minister Digvijaya Singh on Thursday filed his nomination papers as ruling party’s nominee for the Rajya Sabha elections slated for March 26.
Three Rajya Sabha seats from Madhya Pradesh, currently held by Digvijaya Singh, and BJP leaders Prabhat Jha and Satyanarayan Jatiya are falling vacant next month.
The senior Congress leader arrived at the Assembly Secretariat around 12.30 pm and submitted his papers to the Returning Officer.
After filing his nomination, Singh thanked Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi, party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for reposing faith in him and renominating him for a second term in the Upper House of Parliament.
Singh filed his nomination a day after Gwalior’s erstwhile royal and former Guna MP Jyotiraditya Scindia joined the BJP after quitting the Congress.
The BJP announced Scindia’s candidature for the Rajya Sabha polls from the state on Wednesday.
The political crisis in Madhya Pradesh unfolded over an alleged power tussle between Scindia and Singh for the Rajya Sabha nomination.
The Congress and BJP are sure to win one seat each, whereas a keen contest is likely for the third one.
Jyotiraditya Scindia arrived in Bhopal on Thursday evening on his maiden visit after switching over to the BJP. His visit was delayed by two hours and he was taken in a procession by the BJP workers from the airport.
Scindia who has been nominated as the BJP candidate will file his nomination papers for Rajya Sabha on Friday, the closing day for nominations.
BJP workers, who missed no opportunity to criticise Scindia till a couple days ago, went to welcome him with great fanfare. He was taken from the airport to the BJP office for the state Working Committee meeting for the modalities of nomination.
Scindia is expected to garland the statues of Deendayal Upadhyay, his grandmother Vijayaraje Scindia, Kushabhau Thakre and father Madhavrao Scindia before filing his nomination.
On Friday, Scindia will file nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha with senior BJP leaders. At the same time, in support of Scindia, over 10,000 activists including many Congress district heads of Gwalior, Guna, and Shivpuri have resigned from the party.
On the other hand, Scindia’s posters put up near Polytechnic square in Bhopal were either smeared with ink or partly torn by Congress activists. Congress members who were offended by his joining the BJP, also burnt his effigies and defaced billboards erected to welcome him.
After Jyotiraditya Scindia resigned from the Congress, many others have started abandoning the party as well. Resignations have come from almost every part of Madhya Pradesh. So far hundreds of workers and party officials have put in their papers.
Many leaders have started aspiring for a place in the BJP now after Scindia joined the party.
The Congress in Madhya Pradesh is witnessing chaos after Scindia’s departure, and those leaders, who have any say in the Congress, have also started leaving the party.
Congress state unit secretary Sunil Tiwari has written a letter to party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi, saying “some leaders have made the Congress their private institution and when Scindia took up this issue and started objecting in the interests of the party and the workers, he was suppressed.
“The result is in front of the party.” Tiwari, who has been associated with the Congress for the last 32 years, also resigned from the primary membership of the Congress.
Similarly, Hira Singh Rajput, Sagar district chief of the Congress and brother of Govind Singh Rajput, a minister in the government, also resigned from his post. Bhopal Congress Working President Krishna Ghatge also left the party and took the membership of the BJP in the presence of BJYM President Abhilash Pandey.
There were reports of some more Congress leaders form the state resigning from the posts and leaving the party. (IANS)