Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker NP Prajapati on Saturday accepted the resignations of six former ministers in the state who were expelled on the recommendation of Chief Minister Kamal Nath, PTI reported. As many as 22 Congress MLAs in the state had resigned from the Assembly on Tuesday, sending the Congress government in the state into a crisis.
The six ministers, along with 16 other MLAs, resigned after long-time Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, whom they were loyal to, quit the party on Tuesday. They were expelled by Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon on Friday. Ahead of Scindia’s exit, the MLAs were allegedly flown to Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Karnataka in a bid to keep them together.
The legislators had earlier sent their resignations to the Speaker but were asked to verify in person that they had submitted their resignations independently and under no duress. The portfolios of the expelled ministers were restructured and distributed among other party leaders.
Meanwhile, the BJP on Saturday wrote to Madhya Pradesh governor demanding an immediate floor test in the Assembly, The Indian Express reported.
A delegation of BJP leaders comprising former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava accused Chief Minister Kamal Nath of trying to pressurise the rebel MLAs as the Congress government, it alleged, is already in minority after their resignations.
“It has become public [knowledge] that the chief minister is constantly trying to put pressure or offer allurements to not just the 22 legislators but also others,” the party said in a letter to the governor, according to the newspaper. “Any further delay in holding the trust vote would lead to more horse trading.’’
The party added: “The government should prove its majority first. Any Assembly proceeding other than the trust vote, or for the government to continue in office, would be undemocratic and unconstitutional.” It demanded that a floor test be held possibly on Sunday ahead of the budget session, which begins on Monday, so that the government proves its majority before undertaking any other official business.
It further asked Tandon to ensure the “minority government” does not cancel or postpone the trust vote on the pretext of an excuse.
On the process of conducting the floor test, the BJP said that the exercise should be undertaken by ordering a “division” and pressing the button instead of voice vote. It demanded the entire proceedings of the floor test be recorded.
Earlier on Friday, Nath met the governor in Bhopal and told him that the BJP had indulged in “horse-trading” of legislators and had held 19 of them captive.
Nath told the governor that the party was ready to take the floor test during the Budget Session beginning from March 16. After the meeting, Nath said: “Floor test will happen but it will be possible only when there is freedom. Where is the freedom when 22 MLAs are held captive? Some say that they are coming back. When are they coming back?”
Before the resignations, the government had a wafer-thin majority – the party had 114 MLAs of its own in the 230-seat state Assembly, and seven others supported it. Two seats are vacant. If the 22 resignations are accepted, the Congress would be reduced to 92 MLAs and the government would collapse.