New Delhi: Tables turned in Madhya Pradesh last week when two legislators of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pledged support to chief minister Kamal Nath-led Congress government in the state.
The developments took place just a day after the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) government collapsed in Karnataka on the back of a series of defection by over a dozen of their legislators.
As India’s grand old party struggles to resolve the crisis of central leadership, concern over stability of Congress-led state governments with thin majority have risen.
Senior party leaders have, however, pointed out that in Madhya Pradesh, the Congress' state leadership has taken a series of steps to boost the stability of the government.
After two BJP MLAs pledged their support to Nath last week, a senior Congress functionary from the state said “at least 3 more MLAs" from the rival party are in touch with them. “There have been open warnings from the BJP about threatening our government's stability. However, apart from the 2 BJP MLAs who pledged support, atleast 3 more an in touch with us. We are in no hurry and any such question arises only when a trust vote is required," the leader quoted above said requesting anonymity.
In the 230-member assembly, Congress on its own falls short of halfway mark with a strength of 114 MLAs but has support from 2 legislators from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), one from Samajwadi Party (SP) and four independents.
Interestingly, the two BJP MLAs who have supported Nath - Narayan Tripathi and Sharad Kol – are both former Congressmen and the party feels this could cement their position.
“We are aware that some of our MLAs have been informally in touch with the Congress. But it is their doing as they are offering incentives to our party leaders through unfair means and undue pressure. Any such anti-party activity will be met with strict disciplinary action," a senior BJP leader from the state said requesting anonymity.
However, Congress' survival plan in Madhya Pradesh goes beyond leaning on rebel BJP MLAs. According to senior Congress leaders, several MLAs have been accomodated not just in ministerial posts but also in key organisational posts.
The party is also focusing on legislators from alliance partners keeping constantly in touch with leaders of the respective party. “Party has identified a bunch of MLAs, nearly 8 to 10, who have been unhappy due to one reason or the other. An unofficial arrangement has been put in place where they have been attached with state ministers and any of their grievances get taken care of directly," another Congress leader added.
Congress is hopeful of performing well in the by-poll for Jhabua assembly constituency which is expected to take place soon. If it wins the seat, its tally on its own will come one short of halfway mark, offering it a little more stability.