The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking a floor test in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly within 12 hours, The Indian Express reported. The petition was filed soon after Assembly proceedings were adjourned till March 26 over due to fears about the coronavirus. The governor had earlier ordered a trust vote to be held in the Assembly on Monday.
The plea was filed by former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and nine other MLAs. The top court will hear the matter on Tuesday, Advocate General of Madhya Pradesh Purushaindra Kaurav told the newspaper. The top court will hear the petition on Tuesday.
“It is submitted that on account of lack of confidence and resignation of 22 MLAs of Congress party out of which the resignation of six MLAs having been already accepted by Speaker, the government led by Chief Minister Kamal Nath has been reduced to minority,” the plea said. “It has no moral legal, democratic or constitutional rights to remain in power even for a single day.”
The petition also claimed that Nath is trying to convert his minority government into majority by “possible threats, allurements” to the members. “The horse trading is at its peak,” it added. “Therefore, it is essential that the floor test is conducted on March 16 itself as already directed by governor so that it becomes absolutely clear as to whether the chief minister continues to enjoy the confidence of the majority of the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha.”
An unidentified BJP leader said the party is confident that all technical hurdles will be steered clear of, with a government in place soon. “It may take a day or sometimes a week for the legal issues to be cleared,” the unidentified official told The Indian Express. “We are just waiting to see how far they [the Congress and Kamal Nath] will go. The MLAs have made it clear that they are not working with the Congress or the Chief Minister.”
The party leader added that Supreme Court verdicts in the past give very categorical instructions on what is to be done in case party MLAs resign. “There are laid out rules,” he added. “The BJP will adopt all democratic tools and procedures to see that a government with majority support in place in Madhya Pradesh.”
Meanwhile, 106 MLAs of the BJP reached the residence of Governor Lalji Tandon around noon demanding immediate floor test after the adjournment of the Assembly.
Congress leader Digvijaya Singh also met the governor and said it was a “courtesy” visit. Talking to reporters after meeting him, Singh said he had known Tandon for the last many years and that they did not discuss politics.
Chief Minister Kamal Nath had written to Tandon earlier in the day, asking him not to hold the floor test as Congress MLAs were being held “captive” in Bengaluru.
During the short session, Tandon addressed the Assembly, telling the MLAs to uphold the law. “All must follow the rules under the Constitution so that dignity of Madhya Pradesh remains protected,” he said. The short session was attended by Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs led by former Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, as well as the remaining Congress legislators.
The Madhya Pradesh Assembly Secretariat did not mention holding of a floor test on Monday in the List of Business it issued on Sunday night. Tandon had ordered a floor test last week after 19 MLAs sent their resignations to him.
As many as 22 MLAs, loyalists of former Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, had sent in their resignations last week, pushing the Kamal Nath-led government in the state to the brink.
On Sunday, the Congress shifted all its remaining MLAs from a Jaipur resort to Bhopal. The MLAs were lodged at the resort amid fears of poaching by the BJP. However, the BJP MLAs, who have been staying at a hotel in Haryana, have not returned to Bhopal so far.
On Friday, Nath met the governor and told him that the BJP had indulged in “horse-trading” of legislators and had held 19 of them captive. He had also expressed readiness for a floor test.