In view of the recent developments in Karnataka and Goa where its MLAs have rebelled or switched to the BJP, the Congress has rushed General Secretary Jyotiraditya Scindia to Madhya Pradesh to stem any such crisis in the state. According to senior party leaders, Scindia arrived in Bhopal on Thursday afternoon and held discussions with Chief Minister Kamal Nath over lunch at his residence.
Scindia also visited the state Assembly and interacted with people at the Coffee House. In the evening, Scindia participated in the dinner at the residence of his key supporter and state Cabinet Minister Tulsiram Silawat, where most of the state ministers and legislators of both the party and its allies were present.
A senior Congress leader requesting anonymity said that the BJP had contacted at least 10-15 Congress MLAs in the state in the last one month to seek they switch over to it.
The party leader said that these talks were, however, in the initial stage as nothing has been promised to the Congress legislators.
According to political observers, the Congress is seeking to project the message that it is united and impress on the legislators that there are no differences between its top leaders in the state.
A common grouse of Scindia loyalists among the ministers and legislators is that the officials do not listen to them. Scindia did not agree with their perception but stressed that there should be coordination among all since team spirit was important.
State Minister Sajjan Singh Verma, however, commented that nothing much should be read into Scindia’s visit and engagements, as top leaders keep visiting the state and when they come, gatherings of party lawmakers are organised. He ruled out anything like Karnataka or Goa happening in the state.
Congress enjoys a precarious majority in the state. Though it emerged as the single largest party in the 230-member house after the last year’s Assembly elections with 114 seats, it failed to cross the halfway mark on its own and enlisted support of the BSP and the SP which have won two seats and one seat each.
Four Independent MLAs, who are Congress rebels, have also extended their support, taking the total number of MLAs on the Congress side to 121.
The BJP had finished second by winning 108 seats.
The strategic move of the Congress comes at a time when the party’s 13 month-old coalition government with the Janata Dal-Secular is facing a crisis following the resignation of over 13 MLAs.
On Wednesday, even 10 out of 15 party MLAs in Goa switched their alliance to the ruling BJP in the state. A senior party leader said that on Tuesday night, a Congress MLA from Goa before arriving in the national capital to join the BJP informed the party leader about his decision and requested him not to stop him.
The leader said that the message of 10 MLAs switching their sides was immediately passed on to the senior leadership. Congress sources said that the BJP, which is looking for expansion in Odisha, is eyeing the Congress leaders in the state.
Meanwhile, the spree of resignations by MLAs of the ruling Congress and JD(S) is set to resonate in the Karnataka Assembly when it convenes on Friday for a 10-day session amidst Opposition BJPs demand for a floor test and ouster of the HD Kumaraswamy government.
The session had been convened in the normal course before the 13-month-old government plunged into a crisis, triggered on July 6 by a string of resignations by 18 legislators who were part of the ruling coalition.
In the 225-member Assembly, including one nominated, the Congress had 79 MLAs, including Speaker, and JD(S) had 37 before the resignation by 16 MLAs. Lone members of BSP and KPJP (a regional outfit) besides an Independent also were with the government.
However, 16 MLAs – 13 of the Congress and 3 of the JD(S) — have tendered their resignations over the last few days.
The KPJP legislator and the Independent also have quit as ministers and withdrawn their support to the government but they continue to be the members of the Assembly.
If the Speaker accepts the resignation of the 16 members of the Congress and JD(S), the Assembly’s effective strength will drop to 209 from 225 and the ruling coalition will be reduced to 100, when the halfway mark would be 105.
Karnataka Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar on Thursday said he had received the resignation letters of the 13 rebel legislators of the ruling Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) in the prescribed format at his office here.
“The legislators wrote their resignation in my office in the prescribed format and submitted them to me personally. I will go through them and decide (on them) after I hear them personally,” Kumar told reporters here.
The Speaker also asked the legislators to give in writing to him reasons for resigning from the assembly segments and that they were doing voluntarily.
“I will communicate to the Supreme Court on Friday that I have acted upon the matter as per the law and in compliance with its order issued earlier in the day,” he said. (IANS)