Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia on Tuesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah at the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi, ANI reported.
The meeting between the leaders took place after 20 ministers of the Kamal Nath-led Congress government in Madhya Pradesh resigned earlier on Monday and requested the chief minister to reconstitute the Cabinet, PTI reported. The government faced a fresh political threat after 17 lawmakers, who are supporters of party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, went incommunicado, and several of them are reportedly in Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Karnataka.
Meanwhile, a meeting of senior Bharatiya Janata Party leaders took place at the party office in Bhopal and was attended by former chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, VD Sharma and Vinay Sahsrabuddhe, among others.
The development came after Nath was forced to return to Bhopal after meeting Congress President Sonia Gandhi. He convened a late night urgent meeting with party leaders at his residence, where ministers tendered their resignations and expressed faith in his leadership.
Scindia is said to be upset as he was neither made the state Congress unit chief – a post still held by Nath – nor assured of a Rajya Sabha berth.
Sajjan Singh Verma, who resigned as the Public Works and Environment minister, told reporters that around 20 ministers have resigned to express solidarity with Nath. He added that they wanted to stop efforts made by the saffron party to topple the government.
“The government will last its full five-year term and there is no political crisis,” Public Relations Minister PC Sharma claimed.
The chief minister, meanwhile, accused the BJP of trying to destabilise the government in connivance with mafia. He said they would not be allowed to succeed at any cost. “I have dedicated all my life to serving the people, but the BJP has indulged in immoral ways to destabilise my government,” he added. “My biggest strength is people’s faith and their love showered on me. I will not allow anyone to destabilise the government elected by the people.”
He added that his objective was to carve out a new identity for the state. “But BJP is just power-hungry and has nothing to do with the people of the state and its development.”
Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said he is hopeful that the crisis will end soon. “I am hopeful that the current crisis in MP ends soon and that leaders are able to resolve differences,” he tweeted. “The state needs a stable government in order to fulfill the promises make to the electorate.”
After the meeting, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh said the leaders tried to contact Scindia but he was reportedly suffering from swine flu, so they have not been able to speak to him, ANI reported. “Jo sahi Congressi hain woh Congress mein rahega,” he added.
On Tuesday, former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chouhan said this was an internal matter of Congress. “I would not like to comment on it,” he added. “We had said on the first day that we are not interested in bringing down the government.”
The crisis in the state is expected to escalate in the next 24 hours, according to The Indian Express. The BJP has called a meeting of its legislature party in Bhopal on Tuesday evening, six days before the Budget session begins on March 16. The Congress legislature party will also meet Tuesday.
On March 3, the Congress had alleged that 10 MLAs who support its government in Madhya Pradesh had been taken by the BJP to a hotel in Gurugram. Late that night, the party claimed to have “rescued” six of them – four of the Congress and one each of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party. On March 5, the party again claimed that the BJP had “abducted” 14 of its MLAs , but details of this allegation are not clear.
In the 230-seat Madhya Pradesh Assembly, the Congress has 114 MLAs and the BJP has 107. Out of the rest of the seats, the BSP has two and the Samajwadi Party has one. Four are Independent MLAs, while two seats are currently vacant.