NEW DELHI :
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is likely to move a no-confidence motion against the Madhya Pradesh government led by chief minister Kamal Nath on Monday against the backdrop of 22 Congress members of the legislative assembly (MLAs) tendering their resignation from the legislative assembly three days ago.
Madhya Pradesh assembly speaker N.P. Prajapati on Thursday issued notices to 22 MLAs asking them to appear before him by Friday. This came on a day of high political drama, including developments in Bengaluru, where Congress leaders alleged they were manhandled by police.
The Congress also opposed the holding of a floor test. “A floor test cannot take place as the resignations submitted by 19 MLAs have not been accepted. They should physically come before the speaker and speak for themselves. These MLAs have been held hostage by the BJP," said Digvijay Singh, a senior Congress leader and a former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh.
Prajapati will seek clarification from the MLAs on whether the resignation was wilful or made under duress.
“This is going to be similar to the situation in Karnataka where the final call over accepting resignation lies with the speaker. We are hopeful that the majority of the rebel MLAs continue to be with Congress. The chief minister is personally monitoring the situation and is taking all steps to ensure their return to the party," said a senior party leader involved with the state on condition of anonymity.
“We are keeping all options open, including that of legal recourse if due constitutional provisions are not followed," the leader quoted above said.
A trust vote, if it takes place, would be the first big survival test for the 15-month-old Congress government whose stability has been threatened by the resignations of the MLAs.
“The MLAs are protesting because they are annoyed by chief minister Kamal Nath. The division within the Congress leadership is visible with Jyotiraditya M. Scindia joining the BJP. It is unfair on the part of the Congress to blame the BJP because these are MLAs of the ruling party in the state. The Madhya Pradesh government has lost the moral authority to remain in office because they do not have the required numbers," said a senior BJP leader based in Bhopal.
The political developments in Madhya Pradesh will have an impact on the upcoming Rajya Sabha elections when MLAs would elect three members from the state for the Upper House. At present, the BJP has two members from the state and Congress one in the Rajya Sabha. If the rebel Congress MLAs cross vote in favour of the BJP, the party would be able retain its two seats.
Senior Congress leaders said the party has the support of 92 party MLAs which is way below the halfway mark for proving majority in the House. The Congress had won 114 seats in the 2018 elections in the 230-member Assembly, forming government with the support of two MLAs of the Bahujan Samaj Party, one of the Samajwadi Party, and three independents. The BJP had finished a close second with 109 seats and is hopeful of turning the tables in its favour.
The Congress sent senior Madhya Pradesh leaders to speak to the rebel MLAs stationed in Bengaluru. The party held a press conference in Bhopal later in the day, claiming that its senior leader Jitu Patwari was manhandled by police at a resort in Bengaluru when he attempted to meet the MLAs.