Kamal Nath stuns euphoric BJP: but what next?

Congress Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Kamal Nath had a symbolic victory on July 24 when two BJP members voted along with Congress members in support of a criminal law amendment bill in the Assembly. The BJP had not opposed the bill, did not want a division on the bill and was not even prepared for the division. It was sudden. The BJP was stunned. Its euphoria born out of the fall of the Congress-JD(S) government in Karnataka a day earlier evaporated. The BJP had been taunting the Congress leaders in Madhya Pradesh from the moment the BJP in Karnataka had defeated the trust vote in the alliance government.

A little before the two BJP MLAs had sided with the Congress, Leader of Opposition Gopal Bhargava had boasted that following the go-ahead order of “our number 1 and 2”, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh would go within 24 hours. Other BJP leaders had also been expressing similar sentiments in their excitement.

Kamal Nath

It was a master stroke by Kamal Nath to silence the vociferous BJP leaders. The operation was planned and executed in secrecy. As the discussion over the bill was over and the BJP members were complacent, there was a sudden demand for a division. The demand was made by an MLA of BSP, part of coalition government. A total of 122 members voted in support of the bill, including Narayan Prasad Tripathi and Sharad Kol of BJP (Congress 113 + BSP 2 + SP 1+ Independents 4 + BJP 2). In a House of 230 members, Congress has 114 members (the Speaker did not vote) and BJP 107. One seat is vacant.

The BJP leaders have been tongue-tied since. They have been holding parleys at various levels to take stock of this sudden development. The party’s central leadership is reported to be unhappy with the complacency of Madhya Pradesh leaders and has asked for a full report about the developments. The MP Assembly development is seen, in particular, a setback to BJP president Kamal Nath and Home Minister Amit Shah whose ambition to demolish opposition citadels in the country is not a secret.

It is not clear what Kamal Nath has promised to the two BJP MLAs who have shifted their loyalty to the Congress. Their action has, however, put BJP in a greater dilemma. BJP cannot act against them for having voted along with the Congress MLAs because the party had not issued whip. Without the whip, an MLA is free to support or oppose a bill as he/she likes.

If BJP expels them, they will continue to be MLAs and will be treated as independents. But if they get some position in the Congress government, that may give the BJP an opportunity to seek their disqualification as MLAs. If they continue like this till the next session of the Assembly, the BJP may get a chance to trap them by issuing whip on some issue and seek their disqualification if they defy the whip. If disqualified, they will not be eligible for contesting till the term of the present Assembly lasts.

The more likely scenario is that they will resign from the Assembly, get ministerial berths and seek re-election within six months. That, though, is likely to create a different type of problem for Kamal Nath. Some Congress MLAs who have held important ministerial positions in the past have of late been up in arms against the party leadership for having been kept out of the government and some of them were reported to have been assured of their inclusion at the next cabinet reshuffle. BSP and independents MLAs have their own expectations. And Kamal Nath cannot accommodate all of them.


Opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not of eNewsroom. This is an open forum and we try
to give space to every school of thought.

N D Sharma

is a senior journalist, and Patron of eNewsroom India.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button